2021 represents a key year for Italy in the global action on climate change.
Six years since the Paris Agreement, Italy is playing a leading role as a partner country in COP26, the United Nations conference on climate change, by hosting the Pre-COP, where around 400 young people from 197 countries will meet in Milan to participate in working groups with their peers from all over the world and develop concrete proposals to be presented to governments during the Pre-COP and at COP26.
Within the Pre-COP context, the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in collaboration with Connect4Climate of the World Bank Group, together with the Regione Lombardia and the City of Milan have launched All4Climate a series of events that will take place in the final week of September, during which a new Living Chapel will be inaugurated, a symbol of interfaith dialogue for the commitment to fight climate change.
Inspired by the cosmatesque style of the Roman basilica pavements, the Living Chapel is set in the Calderini garden as a continuation of the remains of the portico of the Casa dei Cori. Here, in fact, once stood a 15th-century residence, probably the work of Bramante and owned by the Corio family.
Unfortunately, the building was lost in the bombings of the Second World War and only a facade remains to stand, carried with columns and statues, forming a sumptuous opening leading to the garden, greatly embellished by this archaic presence.
Once beyond the entrance, the project follows the radial symmetry of the circles, drawing a path that underlies the urgency of an "ecological conversion". This space, a discursive symbol of the encounter between the different religious viewpoints on the globe, embodies in its essence the peaceful logic of interreligious dialogue, a natural impulse aimed at "taking care of our common home" leading to spiritual reflection and the intimate need for a harmonious connection between Man and Nature.
In entering the project we reach a sheltered space defined by columnar trees, in an enclosed garden, where we can sit on a large circular wooden bench in the shade of a maple tree to refresh the soul and restore the body.
The trees marking the perimeter of the project, which follow the design of the paving, are 12 Prunus serrulata 'Amanogawa', Japanese flowering cherry trees which bloom spectacularly in spring, and 7 Ginkgo biloba 'Blagon', a selection with a fastigiate habit, which in autumn offer a natural spectacle of leaves tinged a deep yellow before shedding. In the centre of the seating area, an Acer griseum, the grey maple, provides shelter from the sun in summer through its expansive foliage, which turns orange at the end of the season, creating a contrast of colours with all the trees in the garden. In winter its bareness lets in the sunlight. There is also a single evergreen species present: the bulbous Agapanthus africanus, which blooms beautifully in summer.
The power of colour, just as in the Cosmati floor decorations, is a major feature of this Living Chapel, and it’s present not only in the vegetation but also in the alternation of the stone granules, with their orange porphyry, Siena yellow and brown porphyry, in the paths and the mulch in the spaces under the trees, emphasising the colour contrasts through the vegetation alternating during the different seasons.
The ecological/integral drive which is behind the project ensures that it is designed using only natural materials.
A Participatory Construction
The creation of this garden represents a formative moment in line with the founding values of the Living Chapel project. Through practical participatory construction workshops, seminars on botany and tree management, and other educational moments, we intend to reclaim the use of natural building materials and pass on to the younger generations the importance of disused practices that can help restore the relationship between Man and Nature.