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Good, Bad, and Ugly: The Battlefield of Milan's Urban Skyline

In Milan, the history of urban planning is physically present in the many different typologies of neighborhoods and areas. The development of the city can be gradually measured by the rise of projects which have completely changed the city's skyline in the last ten years.

Il Duomo di Milano, the fifth largest cathedral in the world, was for the longest time the tallest building in Milan - measuring 108 meters high – and was undoubtedly a Milanese symbol. But the modernization of the city boasted several transformation projects and re-designed the urban structure.

Il Duomo di Milan and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan, Italy

Italian cities have always had a specific structure in that the street network and urban development evolve around the Duomo, and as planners we should consider how major projects can impact and react with the shape of the city.

The Urban Simulation Laboratory "FaustoCurti" is a research facility at Politecnico di Milano. It was founded in early 2007 by Fausto Curti and Peter Bosselmann, director of the Environmental Simulation Laboratory at the University of California.

The laboratory studies complex relationships between urban design and physical context in Milan. The process implies several steps of field survey, coatings of reconstructed buildings, digital or physical modelling of the sample, and historical or morphological evolution of the urban tissue. At the end, everything is compressed in an analysis of the impact of new projects on the city using visual simulation in terms of shadowing, wind, energy, and human perception.

The goal is to innovate, experiment, and help facilitate the control of cumulative outcomes and confrontation between urban planners, policy makers, developers, and citizens.

New development projects that define Milan's skyline, Italy

It is interesting to see Milan's timeline just by looking over its skyline, and have the possibility to identify specific projects from different transformation periods.

Looking from above, one can tell the story of the city; but does the skyline of a city reflect the decision-making process of urban design?

Credits: Photographs by Hamed Maza and Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.