Plans to transform unused railways in Milan

Milan is an amazing place, Hekkta loves it there, however there is a large amount of unused railways across it. These areas are completely unused and have no purpose so when multiple proposals were put forward to transform these railways into something more, we felt that it was our duty to share them with you.

MADStefano Boeri Architetti and Mecanoo are among five architecture studios to unveil proposals to completely transform unused railways across Milan, creating high-density housing and swaths of greenery. Milanese practice Cino Zucchi Architetti and Barcelona studio EMBT Miralles Tagliabue also developed ideas to reinvigorate the seven disused railway yards.

The Green River proposal put forward by Milan-based Stefano Boeri and his team is an “urban reforestation project”. Aiming to cover 90 per cent of the available area in public parks, forests, orchards and a network of bicycle paths, the office estimates the scheme could absorb over 45,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and produce 1,800 tonnes of oxygen. The other 10 per cent of the land would be used to create areas of dense building comprising housing, workplaces and services such as libraries, clinics and kindergartens.


Dutch firm Mecanoo chose the competition as an opportunity to imagine the city with fewer cars and more sustainable modes of transport. Its plans show planted footpaths and cycling routes crisscrossing the old railway lines. Paved spaces previously catering to cars would be freed up by a reduction in traffic and instead be covered by parkland. The yards would act as interchanges for the various modes of transport, while new buildings and public spaces placed around their edges would be suited to the surroundings – with student housing in some areas and urban farms in others. “It’s about daily mobility and preparing cities for the future – that’s really our thing,” said Mecanoo founder Francine Houben in a video discussing the firm’s plans.

EMBT Miralles Tagliabue’s Miracle in Milan project would see each of the seven yards redeveloped as a hub for a different type of activity. A new design area would spring up around the canal in the Tortona district, and a new area for urban agriculture and a botanical garden in San Cristoforo. Other areas would see multitiered footbridges adorned with lights

Memory and Future: Milan reborn by Beijing studio MAD involves “village-like” developments – ranging from courtyard social housing to towers with wavering outlines – set around patches of greenery. The former freight warehouses would be used for a range of civic activities and a set of cycling and pedestrian paths would be created. “The vitality of the future city does not rely on top-down modernist planning but exists in the symbiosis of multilayer urban elements, and the chemistry among them,” said studio founder Ma Yansong.


Cino Zucchi Architects’ proposal of Seven Beautiful Broli imagines the railway yards reused as parks, meadows and public squares crossed by winding pathways.

The idea of transforming these unused railways into public areas like public parks/forests or botanical gardens is a wonderful idea and will make those areas much more environmentally friendly. It would also give us at Hekkta one more place to visit when we eventually go to Milan again… I feel a “business trip” coming on… time to go persuade my boss its needed…