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Visual Essays

Vol. 8 No. 1 (2023): Landscapes of care: photography, film, modern architecture and landscape heritage

Oases in the grid: The gardens of postwar Milanese middle-class housing

  • Natalia Voroshilova
  • Giulio Galasso



The essay investigates the Milanese street-front gardens of post-WWII middle-class housing. Spread around the city by hectic developers, these gardens reflect specific cultural- al, political and social conditions of Italy’s industrial capital during the economic miracle.

Street-facing gardens are an essential feature of modern middle-class condominiums. They reflected the modernist urban vision of a park-city and the Milanese tradition of the street facade; they encapsulate the bourgeois culture with its urge for representative decorum and the freedom of architectural experimentation; their image was used as a marketing tool in real estate advertisement but also as an argument in negotiation for the building licence. In Post-WWII Milan urban nature radically changed its connotation: from a hygienic device, it transformed into a status symbol, and the Milanese started to take care of gardens precisely because of their decorative importance. Even though they are private, they are designed to be looked at from the street, and therefore they make an important part of the everyday urban experience.

Beyond their speculative nature, the gardens of Milanese condominiums transformed the urban landscape, bringing density together with well-cared nature into the city streets. The essay explores this phenomenon through a series of distant and close-up views as if following a wandering gaze through the streets of the city.

Cover image: Condominium in Piazzale Bacone, arch. Gustavo and Vito Latis, 1968


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