24 August, Il Sole 24 Ore
The runaway linking the metro station and the entrance to the Expo area is closed. To access the area, we have to pass through the underground passage under the Rho-Pero railway station. We end up in front of the turnstiles that used to control the crowds of visitors in 2015. Neither the turnstiles are operating. The site is currently accessible only for concerts and events. The gate is just in front of what was the main highlight of Expo, Padiglione Zero. The square is empty now, the area is well-kept, with no potholes or weeds, some containers serve as ticket offices.
Inside, where the statues by Dante Ferretti used to be, which had been recently sold at auction for 6 thousand euro to a nursing home in Induno Olona, there is an electric car. It’s driven by Marco Carabelli, Arexpo General Director, the company managing the development of the area. He’s leading us through the site.
On the left hand site, we pass through what used the be the media centre, the building with the conical ceiling that will be torn down and turned into a multi-level garage. Carabelli explains: “After three years from Expo, it’s obvious now what the steps for the development of the area and the necessary paperwork are”. The machine goes on slowly and silently. Carabelli takes the opportunity to give an update on the situation. In October, the municipalities of Milan and Rho will approve the protocol appointing the Australian LendLease for the development of the area. In March, the executive urban planning instrument will be approved to allow the private investing.
The electric car turns towards Decumano, the boulevard on where the wings of Expo where facing. The springy net from Brasil, the fries from Holland, the German spaceship. The view is even more interesting now, after the dismantling of the wings. Without the buildings on each side, the area looks wider and neater. The white drapes have gone, but the metal structures are still here. Carabelli says: “The drapes were of excellent quality, but with the snow, we had to take them off. The project implies re-using as much as possible the existing facilities. The structures will be used to support the plants and the solar panels”.
At the beginning of Decumano, on the left, there is the construction site for the Galeazzi hospital. It’s one of the three public facilities in the area, along with Human Technopole and the science faculties of Università Statale and its campus. The building will feature 16 floors on a surface of 50 thousand Sq m, 30 thousand of which will be composed of green spaces and parking lots. The facility will accommodate the Galeazzi hospital, the San Siro clinic and the Sant’Ambrogio institute. The works are meant to last 18 months, and 10 thousand employees will move here once fully operational.
Right after Galeazzi, besides the access to Belgioioso, close to the Rho-Monza highway, the Milan ring road, the A4 highway and the Laghi road, there is the renovated Cascina Triulza. Here, there are the Triulza foundations, the LendLease offices, and the Arexpo headquarters. The office of Ceo Giuseppe Bonomi is on the ground floor. He says: “We’ve been lucky in finding an area unique in whole Europe in terms of preservation conditions. No other event has left such a legacy. For this reason, we decided to keep the area alive and to carry out a thorough maintenance. Such a strategy helped us finding the investor and the developer”.
Bonomi praises the idea of the Government to create a technology park around Human Technopole. “Even though HT covers only 3% of the surface, 30 thousand Sq m over 1 million Sq m, it represents the right mix of public and private investments. Its innovative appeal triggered the whole project”. As Bonomi explains, it led to the creation of Mind, the scientific and technologic park, and a master plan together with the developer Lendlease. “Lendlease embodies perfectly the spirit. The 99-year agreement is an incentive to reason with a long-term perspective. The company has plenty of time to see the proceeds of the 1.5-billion investment. The market likes this approach: we’ve received over 60 manifestations of interest from companies intending to move at Mind”. Information is confidential, but rumours talk about 60 companies, including Intesa Sanpaolo and Bosch. All the companies are interested in moving here their headquarters or their R&D departments.
The tour proceeds. On Decumano, among the workers preparing the various events, Carabelli points at the southern area. “Private companies will go there. There are no restrains concerning height, and a 200-metres skyscraper might rise right there”. Public investments will go in the northern part. Human Technopole has just settled in Palazzo Italia with its director, the Scottish Ian Mattaj, along with the technicians working at connecting the building. Carabelli goes on: “The wooden building behind Palazzo Italia will accommodate three of the most sophisticated electronic microscopes, whereas the area where the various regional stands used to be will accommodate the HT departments”. The total investment amounts to 1.4 billion over ten years. This budget is managed by the various division managers selected through a bid recently published.
On the left, there is the Tree of Life. Where the German and US wings used to be, there will be the campus of Università Statale. The project has gotten the approval from the Academic Senate. Seven scientific faculties together with the Sports Science faculty and the related sports facilities will be placed near the Roserio exit, the closest to Milan. In the area, there is also a huge space for concerts, while the Open Air Theatre nearby will keep its original function and will serve as a venue for classical and lyrical music concerts.
The electric car takes the external loop, the road the goes around the site. The hedge is well-kept, the canal is clean. We can see the Arexpo Studio’s from behind, a TV station where some fictions had been recorded. Once fully operational, the external loop will connect to Mind. Only electric cars will be allowed there, while the cars must be parked at the Expo parking lots and in the two new multi-level garages that will rise on both edges of the site. The car leaves us at Padiglione Zero. From here, we walk five minutes to the metro station, and in thirty minutes we’re in the centre of Milan. Every day closer and closer.
Source: Il Sole 24 Ore
Translator: Cristina Ambrosi