Torre Velasca

Piazza Velasca, 5. (Open Map)


The Velasca Tower (Torre Velasca), a symbol of a Milan in its rush towards development and economic growth, expresses all of the strength and Italian Rationalism of the post-war reconstruction years. It was erected in a formerly residential area, following a long study to adapt the tight spaces of the square that would host it. The architectural style, too, is an expression of the design. Known as “neo-liberty”, on the one hand it suggested 19th-century buildings, yet on the other the economic boom of the decade to come. This all-Italian project not only followed the aesthetic principles associated with of the “economic miracle”, but also established a harmonious relationship with the city’s urban profile, soaring aloft with other buildings such as the Cathedral (Duomo) and the Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle).
The first eighteen floors (106 metres high) house stores and offices. The other floors, up to the twenty-sixth, are occupied by apartments, and are larger than the lower floors, giving the tower its characteristic “mushroom” shape. There are, in total, eight hundred apartments.
The project was originally based on a steel-framed structure (in keeping with the North American skyscraper culture). However the final construction used a more “traditional” structure of reinforced concrete, which was better suited to the Milan metropolitan context of those years. A preliminary study commissioned from a New York company established that it could not be built in steel, given the state of technology of Italy’s iron and steel industry at the time.
The Torre Velasca is one of the locations of the film Il Vedovo by Dino Risi, with Alberto Sordi and Franca Valeri. For its very unusual shape, it was christened “the skyscraper with suspenders”.
The Torre Velasca was designed and constructed between 1956 and 1958 by a group of architects B.B.P.R (Banfi, Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Peressutti, Rogers). The shape of the tower is really unusual as the lower levels occupy less space compared to the upper levels which gives the building a mushroom shape. Essentially, the architects wanted to give it an aspect similar to the great Medieval towers, integrating it perfectly with the buildings in the historical centre of Milan.
Designed and built between 1956 and 1958 by the Società Generale Immobiliare, built in a residential area, that sits where there was once a lake, it was destroyed by Anglo-American bombings in 1943. It is now part of the city skyline and has become one of its most well-known symbols.