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Milan and Ticino (1796-1848), Shaping the Spatiality of a European Capital



Tedeschi L.


Viroli M.


External participants

Garric Jean-Philippe

(Third-party beneficiary)

Luminati Michele

(Third-party beneficiary)


The aim of the project is to analyse the evolution of Milan and Ticino through international cooperation and an interdisciplinary approach. The study of the physical transformations of the city and related architectural projects is based on a transversal approach involving the aspects that contributed to the formation of a particular urban spatiality, from juridical changes to editorial policies, from public opinion to political thought. The research, therefore, focuses on urban spatiality – a physical and cultural reality – provided by the example of Milan, its territory and the Canton Ticino, in the first half of the 19th century. It is a case study that makes it possible to construct a sophisticated model of hybridisation, in which physical, architectural and urban transformations, as well as cultural and juridical changes, were determined by the domination, first of Paris, and then of Vienna, without interrupting the continuity of practices and traditions typical of the Italian-speaking territories – Italian and Swiss – that constituted its area of influence. Following one main hypothesis – which defines spatiality as both a physical and a cultural reality –  this research, in an interdisciplinary perspective, interweaves specific methods relating to the history of law, cultural history and the history of architecture.

The period in question, from 1796 to 1848, corresponds to the moment in which Milan assumed the status of capital, first “French”, then, starting from 1815, “Austrian”, with the Kingdom of Lombardy-Veneto. This historical change, which determined the physical and cultural transformations of the city, also saw the Canton Ticino acquire a political identity under French aegis. This led, in Milan, to the affirmation of a cultural policy that influenced the physical and intellectual space and transformed it into a laboratory of modernity for all the Italian-language territories – a laboratory that induced Ticino to reflect on its own specificity within the Swiss Confederation.

For this reason, Milan presents itself as an alternative model of study to that of national capitals; the promoter of an idea of imaginary spatiality and the construction of a spatiality experienced as a product of a symbolic and social process consistent with the physical, intellectual, cultural, political, and economic-social dimensions of the city.

The aim of the project is, starting from the Milanese example and in dialogue with neighbouring Ticino, to develop a method and tools that can be employed, through the definition of an innovative research model, for the study of other European cities; and these will make it possible to identify the characteristics and values of a relative centrality within a territorial system as complex as it is unique.

Additional information

Start date
End date
72 Months
Funding sources
External partners
Co-Beneficiari: Università di Parigi, Università di Lucerna
Swiss National Science Foundation / Sinergia