A new identity for Piazza Velasca, the subject of a renovation project by ASTI ARCHITETTI, developed by HINES: it will become a new pedestrian-friendly zone, a green area suitable for the city and its citizens.
The historic Torre Velasca, the subject of a redevelopment project designed by Asti Architetti and developed by Hines, returns to interact with the city by presenting the renovated square, conceived as a place of private and public interchange. After completing work on the façades and the restoration of the interiors, which is still in progress, with the new Piazza Velasca the elaborate project aimed at giving light back to a symbol of Milan and turning it into a meeting and social gathering place is completed. Pedestrian access to the building, renovation of previously disused adjacent spaces, and street furniture will give back to the city a new open area that regains the very meaning of “piazza” (square) for the Milanese people.
The square, which will be completed by early 2024, aims to give proper value to one of the symbols of Italian architecture with a space enriched with benches and green areas characterized by high ornamental features according to the changing seasons, set in underground tanks with trees, including olive trees and magnolias.
The project for the renovation of Torre Velasca and the surrounding square is being overseen by Asti Architetti, in collaboration with ARS Aedificandi, studio CEAS, ESA Engineering, and in an ongoing discussion with the Archaeological, Fine Arts and Landscape Superintendence of Milan. The project was developed in line with the highest standards of environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.
“In designing Piazza Velasca, my hand was guided by the precise desire to return the Tower’s ground junction to the city, reinterpreting its relationship with the immediate surroundings. Torre Velasca has always been a landmark of Milan’s skyline, yet not part of the daily life of the Milanese, who have hardly had a direct, close relationship with their Tower.
The “foot” of the Tower has always been experienced by citizens as a “non-place” that inevitably did not allow for a proper osmotic relationship between the building and their neighborhood. Therefore, we designed a space respecting the Tower itself, a sort of “secular churchyard” that at the same time would enhance its dimensional and architectural aspects, encouraging the right relationship of constant interweaving with the city. A resting place for the mind and heart but at the same time a place of identity, fruitful for the city, with its gaze turned toward the sky,” Paolo Asti emphasizes.
The Piazza Velasca project was inspired by the principles of preserving and enhancing the square while respecting the Velasca Tower and the architectural context, providing a strong impetus for pedestrianization and improving environmental quality.
“This new phase of the project represents a crucial piece in the complex mosaic of the renovation and enhancement of Torre Velasca, giving back to the square its true function and a role in the urban and social fabric of the city“- stated Mario Abbadessa, senior managing director and country head of Hines in Italy. Just as the studio BBPR in the post-war period was the promoter of a new architecture capable of interacting with the pre-existing legacy, our aim is to renew this interchange with the city, by turning a space into a destination not only to be seen and visited, but also to be experienced with a sense of social awareness and mutual sharing. Torre Velasca as such will be given a new lease of life, sustainably recovering and revitalising the original functions of use, while fully respecting their characteristic elements, and enriching them with new spaces open to the public, such as business, restaurant and wellness areas”.
On the other hand, the sidewalks crowning the perimeter of the square will be clad and bordered by medium-sized granite slabs and curbs.
“In choosing the materials, the distribution and organization of the spaces around the Tower and connecting it to the city, we selected materials, lights, dimensions, presence of greenery and services that would ensure a ‘smooth’ transition from the city to the Tower, as happy and interesting as possible, also including to let people simply stand in the square”, Paolo Asti points out.
Apart from adorning the square, the areas undergoing new tree planting will be equipped with fixed benches made of dark-colored wood and steel. The reorganization of the spaces will include the City of Milan’s bike sharing service. The Tower will thus fit fully into the contemporary concept of the “15-minute city” with streamlined mobility infrastructure and internet connectivity, taking advantage of the surrounding spaces as places to stop, relax, and even work.
The character of the new square, which has been developed as a result of a careful urban study of the area, will also be enhanced by the lighting design by ESA Enginnering, with a view to reducing energy consumption by achieving a high quality of light.
The two BBPR-designed historic street lamps will undergo restoration and conservation rehabilitation of all elements, while the other light sources will be equipped with state-of-the-art LEDs.
The new square, as Paolo Asti states, will thus represent “a necessary urban reconnection between the city and the Tower.”
Client/ownership: Hines European Value Fund (HEVF) is an investor in the HEVF Milan 1 fund currently managed by Prelios SGR S.p.A. and owner of Torre Velasca, for which Hines Italy acts as development manager.