Architect Angelo Renna has proposed to transform the disused San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy, into a memorial for the victims of COVID-19, featuring flowing green terraces and 35,000 Italian cypress trees.
In Italy, almost 35,000 people have died during the coronavirus pandemic and the city of Milan has been one of the main epicentres. With plans already underway to demolish the football stadium, which was first built in 1926, this project seeks to save the structure while remembering those who have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19.
Florence-based architect Angelo Renna proposes to transform the existing grandstands into green terraces and plant 35,000 cupressus sempervirens (also known as Italian cypress) along the new retaining walls. The cypress is a common ornamental tree cultivated for millennia throughout the whole Mediterranean region.
The dark green vertical shape is a characteristic signature of cemeteries and sacred spaces, like a symbol of immortality, or an emblem of life after death. The intricate and thick crown of this species also provides a habitat for birds, dormice, squirrels, lizards, and many other animals.
The project also proposes the complete demolition of the roof to allow natural light and rainfall to hit the ground. New programs will be placed underneath the grandstands: a museum, a research centre, and ateliers for students and researchers. At the bottom, a new concave shape of the pitch will allow the possibility to collect rainwater, creating water zones (wadi). The water will be collected in underground tanks and reused for irrigation and cleaning purposes. In case of heavy rainfall, the wadi area will flood, supporting the biodiversity of different species of flora and fauna.
With almost 80,000 seats, San Siro is one of the largest and most important stadiums in the world. Construction began in 1926 in the suburban district of Milan named San Siro. The architect, Ulisse Stacchini, designed a private stadium only for football, without athletics tracks, which characterised Italian stadiums built in that period.
From 1948 to 1955, engineers Armando Ronca and Ferruccio Calzolari developed the project for the second extension of the stadium, which increased the capacity to 60,000 seats and 25,000 standing. The last major renovation for San Siro, which cost $60 million, was that of 1987-1990, for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. It was decided to modernise the stadium by increasing its capacity to 85,000 spectators and building a cover.
Today AC Milan and Inter-Milan have launched their bid to knock down the stadium and build a new 60,000-capacity home on the same site. The municipality has been divided over the project and requested the opinion of Italy’s heritage authorities.
According to the report, which was recently released, “The property named Giuseppe Meazza Stadium (San Siro) has no cultural interest and as such it is excluded from the protection provisions”. Although approval from Italy’s heritage body is not the final decision, it could be an important step towards the complete demolition of the building.
Via designboom | Images by Angelo Renna