The ‘Milano Verde’ scheme is a unique example of reality detached from image. This scheme has been taken by architecture historians as a true reference model for mannerist rationalism but a careful analysis actually reveals a very different nature. Its image, in fact, conceals implementation and enforcement mechanisms more closely connected to the logic of 1800s urban construction and the property market than to research into working-class housing and districts. The elusive, contradictory nature of the scheme contributes to the destabilisation of its simplistic picture of modern architecture of fragile classifications and reassuring platitudes, its ambiguity balanced between idealism and realism. In addition, we find this experience confirms the importance of studying books and documents to reconstruct the facts and the history of ideas.
Keywords: Milan: rationalism; 1800s urban block