In the later part of the 1950s Milan experienced a period of great cultural ferment. Before the Pirellone, the Torre Velasca and the Torre Galfa designed began to leave a vertical mark on Milan, which proved capable of experimenting and looking to the future, towards a new modernity.
In the later part of the 1950s Milan experienced a period of great cultural ferment. After World War II the city was ready to traverse the second half of the short century. Before the Pirellone, the Torre Velasca by Studio BBPR and the Torre Galfa designed by Melchiorre Bega began to leave a vertical mark on Milan, which proved capable of experimenting and looking to the future, towards a new modernity. The city needed spaces and buildings to house the new working class that was moving from the south to the north as industry geared up again after the war. The new modernity was also reflected in sport, mobility, fashion and consumption. The new San Siro stadium, the setting for the country’s most exciting soccer derbies, was opened and in the same years the sprint cyclists in the Pirelli Grand Prix started racing at the Vigorelli velodrome. In 1957 the construction of the new Metro began in Via Buonarroti, with graphics and lettering coordinated by the Dutch designer Bob Noorda. In Viale Regina Giovanna the Milanese could enter the first Italian supermarket, Esselunga, with its logo designed by Max Huber. Italy also began its journey into the boom years, which were reflected in literature, art, cinema and publishing. Everything was published in Milan and then distributed throughout the peninsula. New exhibitions and cultural events introduced Italians to the international artistic avant-gardes. The Pirelli Cultural Centre, located in the auditorium of the Skyscraper, presented encounters with writers, and plays and concerts featuring performers such as the Gianni Basso Quartet. Milan was both the setting and the protagonist of a new strand in Italian cinema that recounted stories and conflicts in the city, which included the Pirelli Skyscraper as their backdrop. Luchino Visconti made “Rocco e i suoi fratelli”, Michelangelo Antonioni captured Milan’s new outer city in “La notte”, starring Monica Vitti and Marcello Mastroianni, and Carlo Lizzani directed “La vita agra”, a bitter reflection on the boom years. Milan was at the centre of the Fabulous Sixties. But then the Piazza Fontana bombing, strikes and protests took the city and Italy into the seventies and the years of terrorism. In this climate of change, the Regional Authorities were installed in 1970. In 1978 the building was sold to the Lombardy Region, which officially moved in on 2 June 1980. Today the Pirellone, with its recently renovated auditorium named after Giorgio Gaber, is still home to institutional and cultural events. In a city that looks to the future.Read more
Aerial view of San Siro stadium in Milan, 1958 photo, Ever
Passengers on the platform of the Linea Rossa, Milan’s first Metro line, 1965
The Pirelli Tower is undoubtedly beautiful, but apart from this – or because of this – it is a celebrity. People’s eyes in Milan are used to it, and so are mine, for I see it every day from my house in piazza della Repubblica. Nevertheless, when strolling through the nearby streets and looking up by chance – a sad and rare occurrence in cities –, I can feel for the first time the great, solemn presence of a pinnacle, a turret, a huge tower rising itself above the much-desired cement and glass residential structures