After 18 months of regeneration.
Residents and tourists turned out in their thousands – estimated at 50,000 – to celebrate the opening event of the regenerated Darsena Dock in Milan , just in time for the opening of Expo 2015 on 1 May. Once mayor Giuliano Pisapia cut the tape, pedestrians poured in to take back an area of the city which had become rundown over a period of neglect. The redevelopment, which is part of the initiatives for Expo Milano 2015 opening May 1, includes a new pedestrian area of 75,000 square meters and a new market. The area is now navigable again but the most important is the reopening of a small section of the Ticinello canal that had been buried during the 1930s.
The Darsena docks – built for the canal barges which for centuries linked Milan with all of northern Italy, bringing produce and materials to the city – has long been a centre of Milan’s economic life. After a year and a half of renovation work the dock basin serving the two main canals,Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, now boasts new walkways, a large pedestrian area, a covered market, a new bridge and the Darsena Center for exhibitions, lectures and other cultural activity.
Closed to navigation since 1979, the canals are now open again for boating. Originally built under Spanish rule in 1603, the Darsena has always been a popular meeting point with swimming and rowing clubs, and cycling along the banks. Swimming marathons were held here, and the traditional January dive into the icy water was popular. As a reminder of more recent history, during the €20 million restoration work a marble post was discovered at one of the locks separating the Darsena from the Ticinello canal, dating back to 1928 and bearing the fascio symbol of the Mussolini era.
The opening celebrations, managed by Navigli Lombardi, included 4 floating pavilions, a large ‘cube’ of screens and rowing competitions. The opening event featured The Cube, 8 meters per side, is a touch point that for the six months of the Expo will broadcast videos featuring Expo 2015 events and a 5kms scarf which had been knitted earlier during the annual FAN Festival Navigli Acqua Festival – a cultural festival celebrating the culture and history of Milan’s navigli. Landscape Interface Studio took part in the festival last year with the ‘Cultural_Water_Landscape’ workshop.