“It’s probably the most well-known place in Milan”

Dezeen and MINI World Tour: architect, designer and keen footballer Fabio Novembre takes us to the San Siro Stadium and discusses the cultural importance of soccer club AC Milan, the second most-famous Italian brand after Ferrari (+ movie).

Fabio Novembre AC Milan tour

The San Siro stadium is home to both AC Milan and FC Internazionale (Inter Milan). It was originally built in 1926 by architect Ulisse Stacchini, who also designed Milan’s grand Centrale railway terminus.

It was extensively remodelled for the 1990 World Cup by architects Ragazzi and Partners and now has a capacity of 80,000.

Fabio Novembre AC Milan tour

“It’s probably the most well-known place in Milan,” says Novembre. “It’s like a pagan dome, a pagan temple. Definitely stadiums are the new domes, the new piazzas. People meet in stadiums.”

Fabio Novembre AC Milan tour

Novembre goes on to explain that AC Milan is much more than just a soccer club: “After Ferrari, the most famous Italian brand in the world is AC Milan," he says. "It is a very special soccer team because it’s got the city in its name. So it carries with it a lot of responsibility.”

Fabio Novembre AC Milan tour

Above: image of Mario Balottelli courtesy of the Press Association

He believes that work needs to be done to make the stadium more family-friendly. "What we want to try to achieve is to take families into stadiums again. I mean not any more crazy supporters like hooligans but to give back the most important sport in the world to the best people – to children and families."

Novembre also thinks the club, which features the black striker Mario Balotelli and Muslim goalscorer Stephan El Shaarawy among its star players, can help forge a new identity for the whole country.

Fabio Novembre AC Milan tour

Above: image of Stephan El Shaarawy courtesy of the Press Association

“Think about Mario Balotelli [who was born to Ghanaian parents in Sicily but later fostered by an Italian family]. Or Stephan El Shaarawy, the child of Egyptian parents, but he was born in Milano, he speaks the Milanese dialect. That’s a new Italy that we’re trying to imagine, to represent this country.”

We drove out to the stadium in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. Last week we published a tour of Milan with Novembre, who talked about the importance of the annual furniture fair to the city.

The music featured is a track called Where are Your People? by We Have Band, a UK-based electronic act who played at the MINI Paceman Garage in Milan. You can listen to more music by the band on Dezeen Music Project.