Milan, January 2013
The reorganization plan for the district Milano Santa Giulia , historic home of the tertiary sector in Milan, developing over a total surface area of approximately 1,200,000 m2, among the outlying villages of Rogoredo and Morsenchio , which until a few years ago hosted respectively Redaelli steel mills and chemical plants Montedison , stands as the most extensive redevelopment of old industrial areas in Europe. The project, which initially extended only on the area of the former Montedison , hence the name of Montecity , edited by the archistar Norman Foster, involved a total investment of 2.8 billion euro , with the aim of creating the ” city within a city ” , as it was defined by planners and investors. On paper, the dream of creating a cutting-edge area was not utopian : the extension of Paullese road, in addition to the subway line stop at Rogoredo train station , served by suburban trains , regional and long distance , would allow quick connections to the city center and the eastern ring road . If we add to this the free and subsidized construction of buildings , two large parks , the convention center (Rated capacity 8000 seats), the new hotel complex and the planned business locations along the high-flying luxury Montecity Avenue, you can have a complete picture of the importance of the project.
Problems were however on their way. According to the surveys , the aquifer was found polluted by substances dangerous for the environment and health. The reclaiming of the entire area, infact, has been performed just partially. Since 2010, the district has been half fenced, waiting for the completion of reclamations.
The current status of the project Montecity sees the district divided into two areas: one with buildings built on soils and aquifers heavily polluted and poorly drained, and the other with no destination, never reclaimed and waiting for somebody determine it’s destination. The futuristic dream of Santa Giulia seems increasingly unattainable.
The Santa Giulia district is currently bounded within a macro area circumscribed to the south and east by the Milan southern ring road (currently the santa Giulia junction is built but closed to traffic from rudimental barriers along the roadway) and to the north by the vast area of the former Montedison, currently impounded and in a state of disrepair, awaiting the start of the remediation of the soil. All along the western perimeter, the contaminated land is being used as a subsistence cultivation field, divided into small lots, organised freely by the citizens.
Works to replace the polluted ground are for now limited to the area corresponding to the Trapezio park.
There remains the problem related to the serious pollution of the two aquifers in the area. Following the checks carried out by ARPA was found the presence of harmful substances in the groundwater, from which draw the two aqueducts that supply the entire area of Santa Giulia. Among the pollutants were also detected vinyl chloride, various solvents, hexavalent chromium and cadmium, “substances at risk of impaired fertility and harm to the unborn child, “as stated in the warrant to seize signed by Gip Fabrizio D’Arcangelo.
Starting from August 12, 2012 began the second part of the implementation of the large Trapezio’s park area (a total of 50,000 square meters) circumscribed by the two rows of luxury houses (over € 10,000 per square meter) built following Norman Foster’s project. Due to the partial reclamation, the park, which contains the only elementary school in the district, appeares unusable (even if finished a while ago), as well as the school, which was supposed to come into operation back in September 2010. The second part involves the addition of new clean soil and the planting of new trees and grass, along with the installation of games for children.
Foster’s project involved the construction of two residential areas for different targets: a luxury area, overlooking the central promenade controversial (completed in April 2009 and open to the public only in December 2011 as it was built using the polluted soil taken from the areas under partial reclamation), and a popular building , 1,800 apartments, whose purchase prices per square meter (from 2,500 to 3,400 €) are much lower than the € 10,000 in the luxury area. Along the central boulevard there’s still a great shortage of businesses and services to the citizens, the first pharmacy in the neighborhood opened just few weeks ago.
To find the primary services we need to go in the old Santa Giulia, which still preserves the traces of a past ironically marked by serious health scandals, such as the “whites” one, the houses of asbestos. Managed and built in far ’84, they would temporarily accommodate (4 years) 150 families then be dismantled. The transfer of the inhabitants and the beginning of the reclamation began only in 2011, after there were found with certainty 50 cases of lung cancer related to the presence of asbestos. The reclamation of asbestos has affected not only the complex itself, but also the adjacent field archery (closed for more than a year), which hosts the training of young archers of St. Bernardo Rogoredo, winners of the 2012 national championship for the junior category.