Modern Architecture in Milan
Take a walk in Milan and you’ll encounter a hub of modern architectural achievement, filled with excitedly futuristic designs that exist in harmony with the city’s unmistakable Italianate structures and grand historic buildings.
The Fondazione Prada combines the hypnotic simplicity of early 20th-century Italian architecture with the radiant opulence of antiquity’s Domus Aurea. Born out of a century-old gin distillery, the modern centre spans several renovated buildings – draped in the gleaming blank facades of early Modernist Italian style – as well as purpose-built contemporary structures, including a four-story gilded tower. Across these constructions, a range of exhibitions and standing collections highlight some of the contemporary art world’s finest pieces. Wherever you are in the complex, there’s a glorious view as the buildings’ axes line up in mesmerising ways.
Largo Isarco 2, Milan 20139
02 5666 2611
Parco del Portello
To the northwest of the city centre lies the Parco della Portello, designed by landscape designer/architect Charles Jencks. A stunning reimagination of urban green space, the park is an undulating expanse of hillocks, plains, lakes, and walkways. Across the 17-acre green, there is not a straight line to be found. Footpaths curve around rising waves of grass, providing both ample exercise routes and an abundance of spots from which to enjoy the Italian sunshine. At the corner of the park, a large spiralled hill – several stories high – offers unparalleled views of the city.
Viale Renato Serra, Milan 20149
Opened in 2015, Armani/Silos is a titanic exhibition space dedicated to Milan’s legendary designer: Giorgio Armani. The complex is one of the finest examples of modern architecture’s love affair with industrial chic. It takes over Milan’s old Nestlé granary, which was spread over four floors in the Porta Genova District. Today it exhibits over 600 defining works from Armani’s career, exploring his design concepts, influences, and evolution – alongside an exciting carousel of complementary exhibitions. The complexity of Armani’s designs is fully brought out by the reimagined space of Armani/Silos. Bold paisley, bright studs, intricate lacework, all stand out stark against the industrial, huge, and uniform silos of the old granary.
Via Bergognone 40, Milan 20144
Milan’s MUDEC is as futuristic as they come. Another of the art capital’s shining museums, the Museo delle Culture di Milano was designed by David Chipperfield Architects to modernise the crumbling Ansaldo factory. The result is something otherworldly: the old factory warehouses have been bleached white and rendered spotless in an abrupt departure from the surrounding city palette. The complex’s highlight is its central atrium. This expansive space is surrounded by gently curving towering sheets of white, translucent glass – which even light up at night. Inside, your eyes are constantly pulled upwards towards the white glow of the high ceiling, while the gentle, undulant shape of the walls provide a constant sense of soothing and a departure from worldly reality.
Via Tortona 56, Milan 20144
CityLife is Milan’s premier skyline protagonist. The complex is a hybrid district combining the city’s most coveted apartments with ample business and commercial spaces – crowned by three magnificent high-rises. Each high-rise has been designed with a unique profile to complement its two other neighbours. ‘The Straight One’ is an Arata Isozaki-designed, quintessential skyscraper, well-proportioned and stately. Adjacent lies Daniel Libeskind’s ‘The Curved One’ and Zaha Hadid’s ‘The Twisted One,’ which together illustrate how the typical shape of the general high-rise can be distorted beautifully to create contemporary architectural masterpieces. CityLife is scheduled for completion in 2023 with Bjarke Ingels’ ‘Portico Building’.
Viale Severino Boezio 2, Milan 20145
The oldest design in this list, the Velasca Tower is another fantastical masterpiece – with just a dash of Brutalism thrown in. The behemothic high-rise was completed in the 1950s and was designed to resemble the top-heavy watch towers of Lombardy. Even today, the unorthodox structure dominates the Milan skyline, best viewed from the roof of Milan’s Duomo. Its top-weighted profile seems to defy the laws of physics still, a feature that has undeniably influenced the successive and ever-evolving generations of Milanese architects.
Piazza Velasca, Milan 20122
Milan has long been at the heart of Italian artistry and Hotel Principe di Savoia combines all manner of Milanese designs, greeting guests returning from a day exploring the city’s many architectural masterpieces.
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