Milan’s essence is intertwined with its aquatic heritage. The city’s lifeblood has been its rivers, canals, ‘Navigli’, and subterranean waters, shaping its terrain for ages. Yet, the post-war economic surge transformed the Lombard and Milanese vistas, causing these waters to vanish from view, maps, and public memory.

The waterways, including trios of rivers and Leonardo’s intricate canal system, were concealed beneath the cityscape to accommodate infrastructure. This, coupled with detrimental human activities, has degraded water quality and its presence in daily life. Urban expansion, technocentric management, and pollution from various sources have compromised the soil and ecosystems, relegating waters to mere bystanders of human activity, their essence obscured.

However, the River Lambro stands out as a beacon of Milan’s aquatic naturalness. It is the sole river that meanders openly through the city’s eastern fringes, from Cascina Gobba to Ponte Lambro. Despite its presence, the Lambro is often overlooked and undervalued by locals, only partially integrated into the city’s rhythm.

Revitalizing Milan’s bond with the Lambro River entails nurturing its inherent aesthetic, ecological, and productive virtues. It’s about elevating the river from obscurity, enhancing its visibility, and restoring its significance within the urban fabric. This process involves crafting new narratives and practices that transcend perceptions of decay and embrace the river as a vital asset and partner amidst escalating environmental challenges. This journey will further fortify existing community ties and foster novel partnerships within the local habitat.

In this essence, the PALIMPSEST project looked for ideas that facilitate dialogue among different practices, communities and mindsets to co-create a sustainable future landscape in Milan. Through an Open Call, the project invited Creative Agents (artists, landscape architects, and designers) to elaborate and develop creative proposals that (re)define traditional local practices towards a sustainable future for the local ecosystem. 

Acqua Lambro” by gethan&myles is the selected proposal for Milan landscape pilot and a Residential Workshop is scheduled for the 17th-24th June 2024.

Acqua Lambro” is a multi-layered project that explores an “impossible idea”: making the water of the Lambro River, drinkable. The project aims to reset the collective imagination through a series of provocative, co-created artistic actions, that include: the design of a “purification machine” (a cross between a functioning DIY prototype and a temporary art installation/performance), the bottling of purified river water in hand-made glass bottles, and a marketing campaign for an imaginary mineral water brand, Acqua Lambro. Acqua Lambro gives the public a chance to witness and interact with the river and makes visible the fact that, despite centuries of abuse, the Lambro’s quintessential “water-ness” can be restored. The water-filled bottles are artworks that can travel widely and be exhibited as the essence of the Acqua Lambro project. 

During the Residential Workshop, the artists, along with PALIMPSEST partners and local experts and stakeholders, will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Milan context and challenge. gethan&myles and the PALIMPSEST team will further develop the initial proposal toward its prototyping, interacting with the local actors – environmental activists, representatives from the Municipality, practitioners, and others – and practices the project builds from. 

Stay tuned to our social media channels to watch the Residential Workshop’s activities and follow the project’s progress!