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The project arose out of a fascination for Leonardo da Vinci’s emancipations – leaving for Milan, abandoning the conventions of sacred painting and focussing on nature. In the Annunciation, his earliest authenticated work (with Andrea del Verrocchio) and which is exhibited in the Florentine Uffizi, this process manifests itself in a metaphysical aura. The Archangel Gabriel approaches Maria into the middle of a heavenly garden. In the middle ground, woodland stretches with stylized, artificially cut trees. These reveal vistas of an ideal landscape with a port city.


Inspired by this vision, the project proposes a stone carpet for the Piazza della Scala. It consists of a river pebble paving that is laid in a trass lime bed, subsequently ground and polished. This echoes the traditional coverings of neighbouring squares, defines the space and emphasizes the preciousness and interior character of the piazza.


The existing monument to Leonardo is located in the centre of the square and in the axis of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, but not in the axis of the Scala. This relation is established with a reference to line of sight of the central perspective: the still image is rotated slightly in such a way that its gaze falls on the portal of the famous opera house. A tree of life (Thuja occidentalis), with its topiary inspired from the above-mentioned Annunciation, marks a second ideational centre at the intersection of the Scala and the Gallerie di Piazza Scala.


Geometrically and ideally, the circle of life ornament, as illustrated by the paving, holds everything together. Measured according to the principle of Leonardo's Homo Vitruvianus, it takes the human scale as the basis for the piazza.

This strategy has been developed for:

Piazza della scala

Location: Milano, ITA

Year: 2015

Architecture: Boltshauser Architekten, Zürich

Lansdscape architecture: Maurus Schifferli, Bern

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