by Jacopo Muzio

original article:

The 27 January expires on International Architecture Competition for the redevelopment of the Milan Fruit and Vegetable Market area, 592.000 square meters - equivalent to two-thirds of the Bicocca - organized by Sogemi, subsidiary of the City of Milan and controlled by the Department of Commerce. A competition that is not a competition, reported to the Order of Architects of Milan as few will be able to participate.

04muzio02FBThe Ortomercato, together with the former slaughterhouse, it is one of the largest areas, central and unfortunate of the Municipality of Milan: the Expo could have been established there Feed the planet, energy for life without spending public money for the purchase of private areas; nearby, where there is now a faded meadow, the great European Library of Information and Culture was to be built; in the former slaughterhouses, whose conversion is entrusted to the students of the Polytechnic and their professors (once they taught Bottoni, Viganò, today the picture has changed a lot), a program agreement provided for the establishment of the University of Studies, then ended up in Bicocca (..); at the time of Moratti, When "the mafia does not exist in Milan”, in front of the entrance of the Sogemi Presidency there was the For a King, the night of the 'Ndrangheta of the powerful Morabito. Three months to turn the page. However, scrolling through the announcement, the characteristics required to participate and the questions and answers to the proposing body (the famous ones Faq!) it is clear that the competition is tailored to a lucky few; competitors must have already accomplished in the past ten years, at the same time, large structures of fruit and vegetable markets, real estate developments in large urban areas, energy projects on a territorial scale.

In these five years, the municipal council, supported by those who hoped to see a discontinuity with the lobbying methods of the Second Republic of the twenty years of center-right, he called: a pre-selection for the Museum of Memory (Resistance?), unfortunately finished in nothing; an open competition for a kindergarten of 200 sq.m. (in the most shaded point of all Garibaldi Isola, poor children!); a competition for the civic center of Porta Garibaldi and a competition for the Bussa Bridge (promoted thanks to the Concorrimi platform promoted by the Order of Architects), the competition for Vigorelli, an open competition for the services - mostly hygienic - of Expo, announced by Expo s.p.a., another subsidiary of the Municipality of Milan.

Obviously our council is not very sensitive to architecture in general and in particular to the history of competitions for ideas, which are instead an effective way, democratic and provident to have interesting projects and not to reduce the choices of the municipality from above, often questionable.

The history of the competitions is interesting, in Italy it could begin in the Renaissance with the Dome of the Florence Cathedral, won by Brunelleschi, to pass into the Risorgimento from Piazza Duomo in Milan or from Piazza Cordusio; "epochal" architectural episodes, gone down in history both for the quality of the competitors or perhaps for the projects that have never been realized - of which a book could only be written in Milan - and for the intellectual figure of those who launched them. For example in Portugal the competitions have given a new face to the young European democracy and have developed a school of architecture, became known all over the world.

Instead in the 2015 it happens that in the historic center of Milan - more and more polished while the suburbs languish and ferment - there are great quarrels: the Milan Triennale, another subsidiary of the Municipality, call ten consultants, he makes them work almost for free on the Piazza Castello area and then gives the job to one of them, so simply and.

Another report is made to the Order of Architects, whose national representative on the Corriere rightly writes: “The Italian Architects? They are the new poor” (once the watchwords were: Love Architecture! Gio Ponti; Architecture or revolution! Le Corbusier; today the most talented students are advised to go abroad). Yet Piazza Castello is one of the most historically relevant squares, it looks like a textbook, already marred by the "closed" competition - strictly by invitation, bad habit inherited from the Albertinian Era - for Expogate, whose name, which recalls the American Watergate, it's all a program.

Always and only in the historic center, the hoped-for redevelopment of the Milan dock, object of an International Design Competition in 2008 (badly browsed in the proposed ground solutions) whose direction of works was finally entrusted to the immovable municipal technicians (hired in the golden years of Formentini & C.), who carried out a very modest intervention with a reduced budget, marked by an eighties green sheet building / exposed brick, a pre-Berlin wall regionalism, perhaps appropriate to the rural environment of the Lodi province, not to this part of the history of our territory.

The redevelopment of Piazza Oberdan is another dusty project that has come out of the tables of municipal technicians and area councils - without competitions, “that waste time"- necessary and desirable in its premises and functions, but truly modest in its configuration: a stone sidewalk and two flower beds, with the inscription 1925 On the floor (sic). When Churchill needed to rebuild the English Parliament after the Second World War, he told his MPs: “We shape buildings, then the buildings will shape our way of life " (“Architecture and power”, Deyan Sudjic): politics passes, the architecture remains.