Standing in front of the massive Church of Saints Nereus and Achilleus at the end of Milan’s Viale Argonne, you look out at a view of trees, soccer fields, gyms, merry-go-rounds for the young, and bocce courts for the not-so-young.
Viale Argonne is one of Milan’s largest thoroughfares on the city’s outskirts, and it now looks like a playground with something for everyone. There is basketball and mini-basketball, five-a-side soccer and mini-football fields, but also benches where people can sit and read a newspaper, or chat with friends.
The redevelopment of this city artery is just one of the many sustainable legacies of the M4, Milan’s new subway that will celebrate the grand opening of its first six stations on November 26, with the start of service between Linate Airport to Piazza Dateo. On the same day, Argonne Park, built by Webuild, the same group that is building the M4, will open too. It is part of an overall city redevelopment project involving the entire route of the new metro line.
“Today, it is impossible to think of a building project, especially in a big city, without considering the impact it has especially from the point of view of environmental sustainability but also on people’s quality of life,” explained Giovanni Pirro, Webuild engineer and M4 Engineering and Technical Office Manager.
This goal of improving the quality of life was and still is at the heart of the M4 “Blue Line” construction project. From Argonne in the periphery to the redevelopment of central areas such as San Babila, the new subway line will help redesign not only the underground but also the surface of Milan.
Argonne, a playground for all
Walking down Viale Argonne now creates the impression of being in a large leisure and entertainment area. There is a large public park surrounded by a multi-laned street that runs in both directions. The park’s perfectly-manicured green lawn hosts a bicycle path, gyms, playgrounds and much more.
Engineer Giovanni Pirro has personally supervised the area’s redevelopment activities and today checks that everything is ready for the grand opening.
“Nothing has been left to chance,” he said. “We even tried to optimise the location of the Argonne station precisely to try to safeguard the greatest number of existing trees.”
In addition, the area is designed to be used by all age groups. The playgrounds, for example, have been divided for children from zero to three years old, and for older children. A 29-metre-long (100-foot) football field also allows for basketball and volleyball, as well as a bocce court. There are dedicated spaces with ping pong tables, and a fitness area where each piece of equipment has a QR Code that allows users to download a workout guide.
Innovation and wellness: partnership with Milan’s Polytechnic.
Around Argonne Avenue, residents say they look forward to the opening of the new park. The facility has redeveloped the entire area and now promises to become a landmark for local residents.
“Talking to people, many have told us that they can’t wait for it to open, because they see that the space is beautiful, it is new, and it offers a lot of different ways to enjoy it,” said Pirro.
The park is not only attractive but it was designed with a high level of innovation. In addition to the architectural study of the area, Webuild has signed a partnership with the Milan Polytechnic University to design a special material for paving the area. This is a special cement compound that makes the ground more drainable by allowing rainwater to be absorbed by the subsoil.
The innovative solution patented together with the Polytechnic will also be used in other surface areas of the new subway, because the redevelopment project involves the entire route, from the Linate Airport station to the other end of the line at San Cristoforo terminus. Along the 15-kilometre (9.3-mile) route, punctuated by 21 stations, there will be several areas affected by the redevelopment process starting with transforming San Babila square into a car-free area.
“The redevelopment includes the entire line, especially in the historic centre part,” said Pirro. “And then it extends to the western part of the city to the terminus of San Cristoforo. It is a big project that has the city of Milan at its centre.”
Subway station escalators will now poke their heads up around the redeveloped area in front of the Church of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. These escalators are ready to be filled up on the opening day, offering the green park overlooking Argonne Avenue to any resident who wants to enjoy it.