Looking Up to Form and Function
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan was originally designed in 1861 and built between 1865 and 1877. It is formed by two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon and topped with a glass dome covering the street connecting two of Milan’s most famous landmarks: The Duomo and the Teatro Alla Scala.
The Milanese Galleria was larger in scale than other famous arcades/galleries of the 19th century such as the Burlington Arcade in London, the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels, the Passazh in St Petersburg, the Galleria Umberto I in Naples and the Budapest Galleria. This arcades are an example of how form and function in historic architecture has evolutionized structural concepts of the 20th century. Unfortunately, our modern glazed and enclosed shopping malls lack the organic open air feeling of these 19th century predecessors that were intended to protect pedestrians from the extreme elements while complimenting the existing landscape rather than alienating us from the environment and redefining our landscape.