You are in Home / Travel ideas / Made in Italy / Milan's Modern Architecture

Milan's Modern Architecture

Italy’s undisputed capital of fashion and design, and upcoming venue for Expo 2015, Milan renews itself practically every day, keeping one step ahead of the times. The protagonists of its continuous transformation? Some might say it’s the architects!
Modern edifices break up the continuum of older (1800s-1900s) palazzi, churches and ancient monuments, proving that Milan is a coexistence of rather diverse architectonic styles. They are as diverse as the renowned architects that have abetted the transformation of this modern and technological capital (and city of art all'Italiana) into what it is today: sophisticated and lively, cultured and prosperous.Fiera Milano - Photo by Elisa Locci - ShutterstockBlueprints resulting in marked visual impact, enough to change and re-position the skyline of Mediolanum, may re-design the city every now and then, without changing its character.

They also offer a window onto history – that is, the history of architecture and design's development in the Lombard Capital from the 1920s to today. The mutation of architectural vision, of solutions and languages, of big capital’s desires and of the architects themselves is rendered self-evident.

But first, the names: one of the most mentioned in Milanese architecture is Gae Aulenti, who in turn garnered worldwide fame for Italy. Aulenti’s education took place right in Milan in the 1950s, when Art Nouveau reigned. She was responsible for breathing fresh air into such places as Piazzale Cadorna, Spazio Oberdan and Milan’s Garibaldi Railway Station.
Perhaps less-known but no less important is Giovanni Muzio, exponent of the "Novecento" artistic movement and the architect of the Basilica dell'Annunciazione in Nazareth, Israel. Muzio also conceived the Palazzo dell'Arte (today the residence of Milan’s Triennale Design Museum).

Massimiliano Fuksas and Renzo Piano are some of the other ambassadors of Made in Italy architecture both abroad and at home: in Milan, they have contributed to urban development through the design of new buildings and entire neighborhoods, for instance the Fiera di Milano, and the requalification of industrial zones no longer in use.
"Archistars" of other nationalities, such as Arata Isozaki, Daniel Libeskind, David Chipperfield, and Rem Koolhaas are just some of the other names of those that have endowed Milan with important urban monuments: the Porta Nuova Business District, the Citylife residential and business district, the new Università Bocconi all'Ansaldo building, which comprises the City of Culture, and the Nuovo Museo Fondazione Prada for Contemporary Art (still in the works, set to open in 2015).

Famed architects Cesar Pelli, Stefano Boeri and Nicholas Grimshaw, then, are the protagonists of an urban and architectonic revival project in the Isola, Varesine and Garibaldi Quarters (again including projects in the Porta Nuova area of the city). A series of environmentally-sustainable constructions in metal and glass, among them the Unicredit Tower stands out above all as the tallest skyscraper in Italy, at 758 feet.

And while I.M. Pei is the genius behind the new seat of the Lombardy Regional Government, Palazzo Lombardia, two Grafton architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, lay claim to the newest site of Milan's Bocconi University, for which they took the World Building of the Year Award in 2008. The structure is marked by fluctuating lines and a brilliant and innovative diffusion of natural light.

Finally, Kazuyo Sejima - the first female director of the Architecture Biennale in Venice - is one of the main architects for the new Bocconi campus.



Useful Information

Useful Links

Tourism in Milan  

Monuments and Museums

Milan Cathedral   
Museo Cenacolo Cinciano  
Palazzo Reale in Milan  
Brera Painting Gallery  
Fondazione la Triennale di Milano