A case study | Piazzale Loreto in Milan, a space for new urban strategies

by Federico Parolotto



Today  Piazzale Loreto is  a major traffic junction.Tthe central space is totally inaccessible to pedestrians, it is now virtually a no man’s land .

Piazzale Loreto was the site of one of the most painful events in the recent Italian history: on April the 10th 1944 it witnessed the execution of 15 Italian “partigiani”  by the German army and in the same space Mussolini’s body was hanged and exposed to public abuse.

Perhaps that is the reason why Piazzale Loreto now cannot host any activity apart from the  endless flow of vehicles.


The corpses exposition of Benito Mussolini and Claretta Petacci


the execution of 15 Italian “partigiani” by the Nazist army


Piazzale Loreto is a space that was deleted from the urban fabric.

With the growth of vehicular movement and the construction of the red metro line, built in the mid ‘60s, Piazzale Loreto has lost any possibility of pedestrian access at grade. The designers of the Piazzale decided then that all the pedestrian activities had to happen below grade, favoring  the maximum capacity for cars.

This solution has literally split the city in two parts.  Piazzale Loreto is  exactly in between Corso Buenos Aires (possibly the most important Milanese commercial road) and Viale Padova – the latter being at the same time on the same axis as Corso Buenos Aires and possibly one of the most problematic areas of Milan, where several immigrant riots happened throughout last year.


Immigrant riots in Viale Padova in 2010

Riots in Viale Padova in 2010


We believe that the existing configuration of Piazzale Loreto helps to label the urban Viale Padova as a urban ghetto by splitting the city in two, to the point that a retail property costs half as much in Viale Padova compared to Corso Buenos Aires, although they are  only 100 meters away: the 100 meters occupied by Piazzale Loreto.


Corso Buenos Aires shopping area


Commercial activities

Crime density

Panoramio images locations


With the support of micro simulation modeling we can  adjust the geometries of the square, expanding and connecting the central residual spaces , thereby reducing the over-dimensioned carriageways, as well as  introduce traffic lights with green phasing for pedestrian crossing.

We believe it is time to readdress open space in Milan, centering our thinking on people and not on cars. It is possible to redefine Piazzale Loreto, ensuring the same vehicular capacity but at the same time reducing the space given to the “movement channels” freeing up spaces that can host new urban strategies.

We believe that we can change Milan  from the bottom up and – maybe – generate a better future for the city.



One Response to “A case study | Piazzale Loreto in Milan, a space for new urban strategies”

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    flow-n | Sottsass and Piazzale Loreto:

    […] been significant for Italian history since the tragic events of World War II, as discussed in an earlier post. Today, there are no traces of these tragic events apart from a sculpture by Giannino Castiglioni […]

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