As the Darsena reopens for EXPO, Milan rediscovers its waterways

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Xmas comes to La Darsena di Porta Ticinese, Milano | Landscape Interface Studio

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