Dezeen Magazine

Exterior of the San Siro stadium in Milan

San Siro saved from demolition due to its cultural significance

The iconic San Siro in Milan, which was set to be replaced by a Populous-designed stadium, has been saved from demolition because of its "cultural heritage".

The stadium, which is shared by Italian football clubs Inter Milan and AC Milan, was rescued from demolition by the Regional Commission for the Cultural Heritage of Lombardy due to the cultural significance its distinctive appearance.

Originally designed by architect Ulisse Stacchini in the 1920s, the stadium has been expanded and renovated several times, with engineers Armando Ronca and Ferruccio Calzolari adding the distinctive second tier and ramped staircases in 1955.

"The Regional Commission for the Cultural Heritage of Lombardy expressed a positive opinion on the existence of cultural heritage of the second tier at the San Siro stadium, in view of future verification under article 12 of Legislative Decree 42/2004," the organisation said in a statement shared with sports media platform Tribuna.

"Thus, the committee endorses the proposal of the superintendence," it added.

"It should also be noted that the Archival and Bibliographic Superintendence for Lombardy, during the same session, recalled the value of the west grandstand of the stadium as an 'exposed archive' for the plaques/epigraphs documenting the national and international successes of Inter and Milan."

Milan teams consider separate stadiums

San Siro, which was extensively remodelled by Milan studio Ragazzi and Partners ahead of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, was set to be replaced by a stadium designed by architecture studio Populous named the Cathedral.

Instead, AC Milan and Inter Milan are now reportedly looking for two separate sites for their future stadiums.

Dezeen understands that if the two clubs go their separate ways, Populous would likely work with Inter Milan on the design of its future stadium due to its historical links with the club. The club reportedly plans for its new stadium to be located in the Rozzano area, south of Milan.

AC Milan is said to be planning to build a stadium in San Donato Milanese, where the club has acquired a majority stake in the Sportlifecity company, which holds development rights for the land in the area, according to newspaper The Stadium Business.

The new AC Milan stadium would have a capacity of 60,000-70,000 seats.

San Siro stadium important "for the protection of memory"

The San Siro news comes after Italian undersecretary for culture, Vittorio Sgarbi, promised in January that the stadium would not be torn down.

"I am convinced that the stadium should not be demolished, not so much for its architectural value as for the importance as a symbol and for the protection of memory," Sgarbi told Italian newspaper Il Giorno at the time.

"For this reason, as far as I am concerned, I will take all the necessary steps to prevent it from being torn down."

The Populous stadium that was set to replace San Siro was informed by two of Milan's best-known buildings, the Duomo di Milano cathedral and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade. The area around the stadium would have become pedestrian-only, with existing parking moved underground.

The architecture studio was recently chosen to design the redevelopment of a stand at UK football club Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, which would increase capacity while adding a museum and a hotel.

It also recently unveiled the world's largest spherical building, an LED-covered venue in Las Vegas.

There have been other suggested uses for San Siro in the past. In 2020, architect Angelo Renna envisioned turning it into a tree-covered coronavirus memorial.

The main image is by Prelvini via Wikimedia Commons.