The Castle of Legnano is located in Milan, Italy, in the south of a town named Legnano as well as the Castle. It is placed on an small “island” formed by the bifurcation of the Olona river.
The Castle is known as “Castrum Sancti Georgi”, wich means Castle of St. George, whose presence has been documented in this place since 1231. The fort was buid on a Regular Augustinian convent.
This areas was given to me and my companions as an individual project to develop in a year of Master, as well as other areas but today let’s talk about this interesting place.
Inside the castle we found a small museum of the medieval events that took place in this area, like the “Palio” which is an annual athletic contest between towns in Italy, that involves horse racing, archery, jousting and crossbow shooting; It is still an active event or festival and the one in Legnano is very famous in the Lombard region. In the museum we found the original costumes and armers that were used in the medieval period, it is a very compact place to visit but it was nice, however, the castle surroundings have no maintenance and that’s were we got in.
The idea of creating a project there was to give a new direction to the use and function of the castle and the surrounding areas to attract and increase the number of visitors during the year.
The project started studying the area, pros and cons inside and out the Castle and type of visitors during the day.
The first thing that I notices was the Park called “Parco Castello” (The Castle park) right next to the Castle, it is very good publicity but’s not being used, we saw people going for a walk, jogging and doing what they like, but, all of them seem to avoid the Castle, it has such low maintenance that people don’t even notice it, it’s like they know it’s there but, nobody cares.
The other thing that caught my eye is that at the end of the area, behind the castle, there are the ruins of an old mill, the project doesn’t include that space but, it could be easily be part of or at least it could be considered as a focal point of interest.
In the other side of the Castle, there’s a parking area, a big one, which means that it is a very accessible area and it is well served too. Nowadays the parking is being used by camions and trucks for many hours. It could be easily fixed establishing schedules for the trucks, leaving space for visitants during the day
The access to the Castle is the most visited one, it’s the point of connection between the city and the Castello’s park, it means that the access is the first thing people would notice in the area and it can be well used to amplify the attention to the Castle itself and not that much attention to the park or its surroundings.
This was a particularly exiting project, it was one of the few projects were we can worked at first in group and then by ourselves.
– First I divided the castle in areas: Public, Semi-public and Private, I thought it needed to be stablish “who” and “why” people would like to visit the Castle.
– Then, I gave every section a use, for Public space I proposed a plaza and everyone is invited!, it is the first thing people would see, it’ll have seats, trees and a very wide view of the Castle. It’s placed outside the “island”. When passing the island, there’s an open area that embrace the castle with few seats so that people can get comfortable in the green areas and there are groups of rustic plants that takes the castle to an ancient age.
– The semi-public area is placed in the inner garden of the Castle, there are some open buildings and a backyard so there can be made some private events like weddings and official dinners. I proposed pergolas with vine, green and stone pavement and a series of part-shade shrubs for the inside edges of the Castle. For the backyard I proposed espalier fruit trees, seats and an elevated zone for future events.
– Behind the Castle there’s a great empty area, this one is for the young and not so young. There will be a wooden zone with elevated connections inside the trees, so people can have another reason to visit this awesome but ignored place. There’s also an open space with rustic flowers and grasses and the rule is: There are no rules!
There is already a new plan for the Castle, however, we realized that when it comes to students brainstorming, there are always a bunch of ideas to consider. We had a great time, we studied the problematic of the area and got to the proper design according to every point of view.
For any question please write me down.