Milan's new neighborhood plan combines starchitecture and green living for a future urban utopia

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by Jose R. Mejia


What happens when you task four leading architects with redeveloping a historic Milanese neighborhood? Multiply that by €523 million and you get an equally historic seven-year endeavor, breaking records and creating an entirely new blueprint for cities of the future.

CityLife, the catch-all name for the project, will end up being Milan’s first zero-emissions neighborhood. Comprised of residences, offices and retail space, the new architectural phenomenon will include three bold skyscrapers designed by Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Arata Isozaki.

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At the core of the development, a centralized park—designed to operate both as a pretty public attraction and an eco-engineering feat—will purify air and normalize temperatures.

Slated to become Italy’s tallest building, Isozaki’s Il Dritto, will tower at 715 feet. His love for spartan design makes a strong statement through the simple, elegant structure.


Hadid’s tower, Lo Storto, will connect to the tube station (along with Il Dritto), housing retailers and apartments. The slick design highlights her mastery of form and curvature, seen recently in the MAXXI Art Museum. Hadid explains her process, “The dynamism of the surrounding urban fabric was the subject of our formal investigations and inspired the geometry of the project.”

Libeskind deconstructed the classic shape into Il Curvo, a strange pairing of curved, half-moon glass and sharp concrete. Both dreamy and urban, the edifice represents the metropolitan idealism of CityLife.

Intended to work as a fully-formed neighborhood from its opening in 2014, the mix of offices and residences will be complemented by several new cultural buildings, including a new Museum of Contemporary Art, tying together the starchitect-studded vision of utopian living.

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