Piazza Sicilia 1 (Source Comune di Milano).jpg
Piazza Sicilia 3 (Source Comune di Milano).jpg

Photo credits: City of Milan




Period of time




Milan, Italia

Re-Purposing Sections of Streets

From October 2020 onwards

City of Milan, Novaro Ferrucci parents 'association, the Monteverdi parents' association, the Spazio Desequilibrio sports association, the Teatro Quattro association, the Walter Vinci ONLUS association, Residents in the area, Veolia, Muba, Music Think tank, Metiss'art, Maga figure skating, Family dance, Crédit Agricole, and Istituto comprehensive Umberto Eco

To provide more public space for residents locked at home during the pandemic, reduce traffic and to increase road safety for an adjoining school

The pandemic forced us to change our habits and priorities, and challenged our lifestyles. But what the lockdown took away most of all was the freedom to move around, a universal need.

At that time, cities around the world were faced with the need to adapt infrastructures and public spaces to health requirements: guaranteeing social distancing. In highly populated cities like Milan, finding a balance between the movement of people and safety from infection was a major challenge.

In 2015, Milan outlined an urban-planning strategy (Ex: Piazze Aperte (Open Squares) project) with the aim of moving away from a car-centric transit. The urgent need for outdoor space that came with Covid-19 accelerated this transformation. 

This is how the Strade Aperte (Open Street) project was born in Milan, which promotes active mobility while respecting safety measures and proposes the reorganisation of streets as public space on a human scale.

As part of this project and in response to the need to bring more qualitative public spaces to all neighbourhoods, the pedestrianisation in Sicilia Square was carried out in the autumn of 2020.

At an estimated cost of €20,000 ($23,600) euros, 1,000 square meters comprising the right turn lane and some parking spaces were converted into public space with courts for children to play on, space for bicycles and for resting, and even a ping-pong table.

But as well as ensuring social distancing, a key to its success was its location close to a school. In this way, although vehicular access is partially maintained, it ensures safe entry and exit for the children as well as extending the play and socialising area. On the other hand, the parking spaces have not been reduced, but have been redistributed to protect the trees and discourage irregular car parking.  In addition, the square connects the school with the nearby municipal library and a park, reducing the length of pedestrian crossings.

The area was colored by young people, residents and volunteers with decorations inspired by a visual project by Marco Ortensi in collaboration with the  Agency for Mobility, Environment and Territory of Milan.

The square is now full of people, which makes its maintenance necessary due to its intensive use.

Piazza Sicilia 2 (Source Comune di Milano)
Piazza Sicilia 2 (Source Comune di Milano)

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Piazza Sicilia 2 (Source Comune di Milano)
Piazza Sicilia 2 (Source Comune di Milano)

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Photo credits: City of Milan