In 1945, upon Liberation” Bottoni recalls in his book, Ascensione al Monte Stella’, “Milan was completely in ruins, a sea of rubble”. To solve the problem of removing the rubble, it “was initially concentrated at certain points along the city’s network of waterways, ‘la Cerchia del Naviglio’, before being taken to the suburbs to fill in, among other things, the exhausted gravel pits that dotted the outskirts of town like small lakes. [...] At that point, the rubble, which was accumulating by the thousands of cubic metres along viale Alemagna, and in areas adjacent to the Park, was sent to one of these abandoned quarries, which happened to also be the most important in the area” — destined to become a large body of water in the first draft for QT8. "The rubble was dumped into the water-filled quarry without interruption day and night, burying once and for all the dream of a “blue and romantic lake”.


As the context mutated and the lake's concave formation was turned into what had already become a ‘small mountain’ by 1947, Bottoni decided to make a virtue out of necessity: “Since dreams and poetry, despite appearances, move the world”, he envisioned transforming this dump into a poetic place. To that end, he set about designing the hill’s rational growth as it progressively rose higher, so as to realise another dream: one that came from “far off, since time began [...] of a mountain in Milan”. Instead of “cooling off in the water, taking a swim, lying on a beach to dream, strolling side by side, hugging on the bottom of a boat under willow trees that reach down to touch the water along the shores“ this is what QT8 offered to ” the citizens of Milan [...] who live in one of the cities where nature has been extremely stingy with [...] occasions of landscape-environmental interest (no sea, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes) [the] novelty of aerial perspectives, sloping walkways, panoramic views of the city”.


The construction of the mountain went on for more than two decades from its beginnings in 1947. Initially supplied exclusively by rubble from the war, from 1949 onwards the foundation was continuously added by a variety of sources , from excavated soil to waste materials. Over this long period of time — during which it was christened Monte Stella in homage to Bottoni’s first wife, the sculptress Stella Korczynska, who died in 1956 — the size increased dramatically. In the 1949 plan for QT8, with the great lake having disappeared, the mountain is still a low hill and plays a mainly “local role, completing of the district”. By the 1953 version of the project, on the other hand, it had finally turned into “an integral part of the greenery and the views of the city.” The surface area increased from 23,970 square metres to 196,300 square metres, while a series of steps 8 metres high and 33 wide — built with contributions from the construction sites of the vocational rehabilitation schools run by the Ministry of Labour — allowed the height to reach a hundred meters tall, as indicated in the sections prepared by Bottoni.


Thus the Monte wound up being “the backdrop to the new road that enters the city from the highways (the new Via Scarampo) and then runs along its base”: a true reinvention of the historic monumental gates to the city. From the modern green formation of QT8, today Monte Stella emerges as the mass of a cathedral characterised by the compact construction of an urban body. It’s no coincidence that Aldo Rossi himself was the first to note that Monte Stella is “a great work of architecture”.


Graziella Tonon

Public parks

Milano, QT8