In 1964, when Milan’s subway trains were taken into service, citizens enjoyed exploring the subterranean bowels of the city, which was experiencing a phase of positivity, confidence in the future, and courage given by its recovery from wretched exertion. The story today is not much different. In fact, if you reread Dino Buzzati’s memorable report in Corriere della Sera, titled “Milanese thoroughbred gallops underground,” you can sense the excitement.
Recording the thoughts of a passenger descending into the subway from the east side of Piazza San Babila, he writes: “Here you are at last, blessed metro. God knows how many years we have been waiting for you, daydreaming of buried tunnels with speeding Jules Verne trains inside them, making Milan the first city of the world.” Over the years, Italy’s notorious wait for infrastructure has undergone a fortunate change of tide. We are currently preparing to inaugurate in December 2022 the fourth subway line (called M4) running from Linate, precisely to San Babila. It will connect the airport to the city centre in just 12 minutes, a unique achievement worldwide. By next year, the new line will already run part of the way, from Linate to the Forlanini railway station. This subway project is a work of refined engineering involving the City of Milan and the companies M4 SpA, Salini Impregilo and Astaldi.
Designed for sustainable mobility, it will be able to transport 86 million people per year, cutting traffic in the city by eliminating some 16 million vehicles and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 54 thousand tons per year. Like never before, transport infrastructure is proving to promote relations and provide opportunities to focus on the quality of our shared spaces. Now that the means of transit and the places where they interconnect are showing such aspiration, we can hope that design will strategically contribute operational functions rather than just stylistics, a cumbersome old drift that has hit the skids.
Photo: Ilaria Orsini
Set Design: Alessandra Chiarelli
Comune di Milano M4 SpA
From the April/May issue of ICON DESIGN.