The town of Nova Milanese is nestled in the Po Valley, just north of Milan. The valley’s patchwork agricultural landscapes have been sculpted by drainage and irrigation systems: dikes, hedgerows, and canals. Piazza Gioia, the town’s central square, is an indistinct space comprised of a parking lot surrounding a lawn. Majestic, hundred-year-old cedars—botanical giants in need of preservation and reverence—are the only remarkable features of the lawn.
The urban fabric of Nova Milanese intertwines a dense built environment with a rich botanical tapestry of historical parks and gardens. Located a couple of meters north of the Villoresi Canal, Piazza Gioia grazes the edges of this green tapestry. Our project aims to weave the piazza into its botanical surroundings, transforming it into a spacious garden square, vehicle-free and re-greened. The square now becomes an integral and coherent public space for Nova Milanese residents, bringing balance to the built environment of the town center.
A vast lawn highlights the cedars. These trees offer ample shade for visitors, who can sit and rest awhile on circular wooden benches. Young cedars are planted to fill the space that will be left by the decline of older trees.
At the southern end of the square, the town hall courtyards are re-greened. Two rows of hackberry trees grow freely along the eastern end, offering shade to the schoolchildren as they play in their newly-expanded courtyard. During outdoor classes, students can take in the “garden room,” a folly emerging from the lawn. Inspired by roccoli (subtle hunting blinds made from natural materials), the “garden room” is encircled by high laurel hedges and is open to all. Inside, a camellia garden blooms.
Graphic diagonal pathways paved with natural stone crisscross the lawn. These paths facilitate movement between the town and the school or town hall. The “promenade,” the widest pathway, is ideal for a variety of activities.
A limestone hardscape path frames the lawn, punctuated by long concrete benches. A lighting system illuminates the way without cluttering the laurel hedges lining the path. These hedges separate the reinvigorated community space from the surrounding streets, both physically and visually.
Via Giussani and Via Bondi, streets bookending the new Piazza Gioia garden square, are pedestrian-friendly. By eliminating the parking lots and roadways, our project substantially increases the permeable surface area. This, in turn, improves growth conditions for the trees and reduces heat islands.
Municipality of nova milanese
MDP Michel Desvigne paysagiste