Masterplan for the ex-Falck area
The redevelopment of the former Falck steel factory site called for a masterplan that would reunite the divided city of Sesto. Today two ‘cities’ sit side by side: the densely populated historical Sesto and the ‘Sesto of the Factories’, formerly the site of large scale industry, a once proud area of collective memory which today lies abandoned and empty. The Sesto San Giovanni brownfield site has great potential for renewed urban life. The redevelopment project has an open and clear layout based on the symbolic and predominant green areas which will give it its structure, alongside the existing industrial buildings slated for reuse. The site will reconnect with its surroundings with a new active urban fabric and it is to be the new home for the Città della Salute e della Ricerca, a new complex housing the Besta Neurological Institute and the Tumor Institute.
The area of the former Falck steel factories (1,400,000 sqm) occupies one eighth of the Sesto San Giovanni site. This figure alone points to the importance and vastness of the project’s intervention on a local and metropolitan scale and on its relationship with the city of Milan, only six miles away, and benefiting from direct links on public transport. Two distinct barriers act as boundaries to the old industrial area: the railway that separates it from Sesto to the west, and the major bypass road to the north.
The project calls for a layout made up of city blocks, in keeping with the existing layout, with two main roads: Viale Italia running north-south and a new road running diagonally across the site east-west.
The plan is based on three fundamental principles:
Firstly, the sensitive redevelopment of the site’s great ‘temples of labour’. These icons of industrial archaeology are being conserved as guardians of the history of the site. Although it could perhaps be argued that they be left as picturesque ruins, evocative of the former Falck site, they will be sympathetically redeveloped as spaces with new uses.
Secondly, these industrial buildings will play a part in establishing the urban grid called for by the masterplan. Without changing their fundamental structure, their renovation will include the insertion of new functional volumes, making the buildings attractive to future tenants.
Thirdly, the essential re-linking of the two Sestos – the historic city and the former industrial site. This will be accomplished by removing the ‘Falck walls’, the fences that surrounded and defined the old industrial area, physical barriers that separate the factory site from its immediate surroundings. The railway will be crossed by a new intermodal station with a bridge and underpass that, together, will reconnect the zone with the centre of Sesto. The main east-west axis goes from the station through the entire area.
The renewal of this part of the city will be comprehensive, thanks to the park with its 10,000 trees, a vast and structured permeable public area that acted as a backdrop for the existing industrial zone and will now be what connects it to the new buildings; thanks to the careful homogeneity of the urban space; and thanks to the entire project’s mission of environmental sustainability.
Client: Bizzi & Partners Development
Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects