Populous secures Milan stadium contract

Populous has seen off competition from Manica/Sportium to land the contract to design the new stadium for Italian Serie A football clubs AC Milan and Inter Milan.

Populous’ project, dubbed ‘The Cathedral’, has been selected, with the coming weeks set to be dedicated to finalising the objectives and development process of Milan’s new stadium.

The decision sees a reconfiguration of the area in the San Siro neighbourhood of Milan, currently occupied by the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, through the creation of a new district dedicated to sport and leisure. The new district will include a new 50,000 sqm green area, on top of a reduction of built volumetry, in line with the latest regulations – as regulated by Piano di Governo del Territorio.

The district will be pedestrian-only, with over 110,000 sqm of green areas (40% of the total square footage). The parking lot, which represents 40% of the total area in the current situation, will be moved to a dedicated underground area. Most of the sport and leisure activities – located both indoors and outdoors – will be free-of-charge or financed by the city.

Following the decision of Comune di Milano, the two clubs sped up the process to finalise their agreement with Populous and kick-off the next phase of the project, which will be carried out in the next months with the aim to present a final project at a later stage in 2022.   

The new stadium was designed by Populous’ Milan office, which opened in September, with the support of its EMEA team in London. A multidisciplinary team will lead the project, which promises to increase the opportunities and services offered to residents with an improvement in the quality of the urban fabric of the neighbourhood.

‘The Cathedral’ aims to be a celebration of the artistic and cultural heritage of Milan. Its design was inspired by two of the most notorious buildings of the city – the Duomo di Milano and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – and intends to result in a unique stadium that will stand out from any other sport venue in the world.

‘The Cathedral’ is set to offer a ground-breaking stadium in terms of innovation and sustainability. The new stadium, surrounded by a large green area, will be carbon neutral and LEED-certified, thanks to the use of the most innovative materials and cutting-edge technologies in terms of water and electricity usage, as well as noise control.

Accessibility and user experience will also seek to be of an outstanding standard, offering unprecedented safety, comfort, vision quality and range of services to the public. “The new San Siro aims to become the most beautiful stadium in the world for its strong identity and recognisability,” said Paolo Scaroni, president at AC Milan.

“An attractive arena, accessible and sustainable for the city of Milan that will facilitate the growth of the clubs and their global competitiveness.” 

Alessandro Antonello, corporate CEO at Inter Milan, added: “The New Stadium of Milan will be in an extra-contemporary green area that can be lived all year round. The new district for sport and leisure and its 50,000sqm park will make San Siro the go-to neighbourhood for sport and entertainment.” 

Milan and Inter initially announced in September 2019 that Populous and Manica/Sportium had been shortlisted to design a new 60,000-seat stadium for the two teams.

The two clubs revealed fresh details behind the two proposals to create a new stadium and sports and entertainment district on the site of their current home back in May 2020, but the project has since been caught up in bureaucratic red tape.

Commenting on the award of the contract today (Tuesday), Christopher Lee, managing director for EMEA at Populous, said: “The Cathedral will become one of the most iconic stadiums in world football.

“It will create a world-class, modern, and truly bespoke home for the legendary clubs of AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano and form the beating heart of a new civic district. It will be a stadium for all Milanese to enjoy for generations to come that is true to the city and honours its heritage. A stadium of Milano and for Milano.”

Declan Sharkey, senior principal and general manager of Populous Italia, added: “Our design envisages the stadium as the most sustainable in Europe and the focal point of a new sports and entertainment district for Milano that will be alive throughout the year.

“Underpinned by the history and traditions of these two great clubs, it will not only deliver an incredible sporting arena to watch football in but revitalise the whole area to better serve Milano’s citizens, visitors, fans and their families.”

The long-term future of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, more commonly known as the San Siro, remains unresolved at this moment in time. It is currently due to be partially demolished after holding the opening ceremony of the 2026 Winter Olympic Games and converted as part of the sports and entertainment district vision.