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The Red Line. An aesthetic-social study of Milan’s first subway line


Carnevali B.

Course director

Rugini A.



The course will present and test the basic concepts of the social aesthetic approach by tracing the architectural and graphic design of the Red Line of the subway from its origins to the “restyling” in the 2000s and its contemporary survivals. We will question in particular the connection between the particular modernist style of Albini-Helg and Noorda’s design and the metropolitan lifestyle of the Milan of the economic boom and accelerated modernisation. We will ask what is the significance of certain formal and material choices, what remains of these styles, and what challenges open up for the future of the post-industrial metropolis.


The course aims to introduce students to the aesthetic-social approach, which questions the relationship between sensible forms and social forms, aesthetic styles and lifestyles, through an exemplary case study: the design of Milan’s first subway line (Compasso d’Oro 1964, designed by Franco Albini-Franga Helg-Bob Noorda) known as the Red Line.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

The course includes lectures accompanied by image presentations. A study trip with a group visit to some key stops on the Milan subway is planned during the course. 

Examination information

The exam will consist of an oral discussion of the themes and concepts of the course: starting from one of the theoretical texts proposed in the bibliography, chosen by the student, it will be a matter of commenting in an aesthetic-social key on relevant aspects of the Milan metro or another metro: Naples, London, Paris, Moscow, Bilbao, etc. In the latter case, the topic is to be agreed in advance with the teacher.

The exam will be held in English or Italian.