Petra Blaisse’s landscape- and interior design office Inside Outside in Amsterdam has won the competition for a new city park in the centre of Milan. The design ‘Biblioteca degli Alberi’, Library of Trees, was praised for its ‘powerful yet flexible concept’.
Landscape architects from all over the world were invited by the city of Milan to develop a proposal for Giardini di Porto Nuova; an area between Stazione di Porto Garibaldi and Stazione Centrale – near the city centre – that is characterised by a high junction of public and private functions. The location contains some housing projects but is mainly wasteland since the Second World War. The future park will be the beating heart between municipality offices, fashion and cultural related buildings, vital train connections and the northern residential areas. The park of 10 ha. will be developed by the community of Milan in cooperation with developers, they reserved 20 million Euro for the laying-out which will start in 2005.
Inside Outside/ Petra Blaisse was chosen as winner out ten finalists, among others Kathryn Gustafson (England); Martha Schwarz (USA); Peter Walker (USA); WEST 8/Adriaan Geuze (The Netherlands) and Giancarlo De Carlo (Italy).
The winning design was not only praised for its 'powerful yet flexible concept', but also for its 'critical intelligence' and 'richness' due to 'the inventive layering of functions and physical conditions'. One of the main principles of the design is a network of paths that efficiently connects the surrounding city sections and overcomes all level differences along the parks edges. This irregular web of circulation at the same time creates a mosaic of asymmetrical plots that are transformed into botanical gardens. Circular groupings of trees, each of a different species, tower over the area and, together, form the Library of Trees.
The paths' different surfaces trigger a large variety of activities. At the same time they are important carriers of information: engraved with words, they communicate knowledge on the parks plants and trees, and inform the visitors on the areas' itinerary.
Scattered over the park lie small pavilions with different public and cultural functions, and along the edges large cultural buildings are bridges to the city.
The Bilbioteca degli Alberi , with its botanical gardens, trees and orchards, squares, waters and paths; and its capacity to be festival area, community centre and fashion ground – promise to become a varied park that connects with the surrounding living-, work-, travel- and shopping areas.
Inside Outside/Petra Blaisse has, for this competition, expanded her team with Mirko Zardini, architect and urban theorist (Milan); Michael Maltzan, architect (Los Angeles); Irma Boom, graphic designer (Amsterdam); Piet Oudolf, botanist (Hummelo, NL); and Rob Kuster, landscape engineer (Utrecht, NL).