22/12/2014 - Milan

Milan Skyline Tour

Interiors at Princi bakery by Antonio Citterio
Eataly Smeraldo Milan
The Solar Tree and high-rise Piazza Gae Aulenti
Alberto Garutti's sound sculpture in Piazza Gae Aulenti
The Vertical Forest apartament blocks designed by Stefano Boeri
Renovated Milan Central and the Porta Nuova development
Night falls over the Vertical Forest

An expert-guided walking tour among the stunning skyscrapers, the plush, green infrastructures and the radical retail spaces of one of Europe’s most impressive urban regeneration sites, Porta Nuova.

This is Milan’s brand new, ritzy business district, designed by 20 world-class architecture studios from 8 countries and crucially located right between the historic heart of the city and its central railway station in the Garibaldi, Isola and Varesine neighbourhoods. If the 290,000 square-metre area is still a vast work in progress racing against the Expo 2015 deadline, there’s enough of Porta Nuova up and running to guarantee a fascinating visit. And that’s what you’ll get with the Urban Italy Milan Skyline Tour.

Piazza XXV Aprile is where we start, in the Garibaldi quarter, and the first stop has to be bakery Princi designed by Antonio Citterio. On to Eataly Smeraldo and then more shopping heaven at the Cargo HighTech store, a former ink factory now packed with design objects, fashion accessories and perfumes. We check out Dammann Frères boutique with its incredible selection of teas and herbal infusions, and then head on down Corso Como into the now legendary world of Carla Sozzani, 10 Corso Como, where fashion, art design and cuisine meet in an amazing space designed by Kris Ruhs.

Next calls are the Residenze di Corso Como by architects Muñoz + Albin in collaboration with Milanese Tekne; pedestrian Corso Como District, a fashion, design and culture hub where the Costume National store occupies just one of 50 new spaces; and the 4@1 Home apartments – all you need and desire in just 40 square metres – created by Dolce Vita Homes along with Coima Image and Nauta Yachts.

The tour then hits Piazza Gae Aulenti, already a must-go for its skyscrapers, water features, plays of light and not least its art installations:  Alberto Garutti’s 23 gilded ‘trumpets’ connect the square with underground sounds, while eco-lighting comes courtesy of a Solar Tree designed by Ross Lovegrove and given to the city of Milan by Artemide.

Here it’s wise to halt while we do a little star-gazing, architecturally speaking, to take in the full spectacle of the spanking-new Hines complex, including the Piuarch Porta Nuova building and the unmissable Unicredit tower (Italy’s tallest at 230m) designed by Cesar Pelli. Silvery-white and sinuous, it houses – just to give you an idea – the Alexander McQueen showroom, the Porta Nuova InfoPoint where you can browse the plans and models for the whole area, the spectacular Nike store and concept bookstore Feltrinelli RED, where RED stands for Read, Eat, Dream and provides the wherewithal for all three.

On we go to see La Corte Verde di Corso Como designed by Cino Zucchi Architetti, and then into Via De Cristoforis to ogle the displays at Y3, passing the Virgin Active Classic gym, the AXA insurers building and the Porta Garibaldi railway station in the shadow of the renovated twin Post Office towers.

We’re now heading into the Isola quarter of Porta Nuova and right up ahead is the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), the two residential towers designed by Milanese architect Stefano Boeri for Expo 2015 and hosting around 900 trees on its many terraces. Next door is William McDonough‘s new Google Italia HQ, where Pandora used to be.

In the heart of the Isola quarter, the nerve centre of the city, we stop to visit the Casa della Memoria and then the Fondazione Riccardo Catella, housed in a small art nouveau palazzo. On the ground floor of the same building is Ratanà restaurant, serving contemporary versions of typical Milanese fare. 

LIncubatore per l’Arte in Via De Castillia is our next call, a space devoted to social and cultural happenings and budding crafts enterprises. And then we swing by the covered piazza in Palazzo Lombardia, a zero-emissions skyscraper designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York and Milan’s Caputo Partnership and Sistema Duemila.

We’re into the last stage of our trek now, approaching Porta Nuova Varesine and the three residential towers called Solea, Aria and Solaria deigned by Miami studio Arquitectonica along with Caputo Partnership again, and, in Via Vincenzo Monti, the Porta Nuova Villas in a more traditional residential style as conceived by M2P Associati of Milan. The last stop is at the foot of the steel and glass Diamond Tower, a multifaceted jewel 137 metres tall designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, emblematic of the new Milanese skyline. 

 The Milan Skyline Tour described above lasts around 6 hours and takes advantage of green pedestrian routes that link the parts of Porta Nuova. For more information, tailor-made tours and reservations, contact mikaela(at)urbanitaly.com.

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