In 1859, the Town Council held an international competition in which 176 architects took part. Giuseppe Mengoni won the competition, who proposed a long gallery crossed by an arm, with a large octagonal “hall” in the middle of the intersection: the roof had an iron frame and the rest in glass. The two main entrances, those of the longer arm, also provided for two large triumphal arches. In 1865 work began with the laying of the first stone by King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy and two years later the gallery was inaugurated, although not completely finished. In 1885 the Edison Company began the modernisation of Milan with the distribution of electricity: the city was illuminated with arched lamps, giving the citizens the pride of claiming the world record for the use of electricity for public lighting.
The Gallery with its cafés soon became the living room of Milan, and in 1910 the Futurist painter Umberto Boccioni painted the movement of the people who animated it in the painting Rissa in the gallery. During the Second World War, on the nights of 13 and 15 August 1943, the Gallery was hit by Allied aerial bombardments that caused devastating destruction, the Gallery was seriously damaged: the post-war reconstruction maintains its previous appearance, the original incandescent chandeliers that were destroyed are replaced by a series of projectors hidden in the balcony that runs along the perimeter in the upper part of the Gallery.
The “2000 urban lighting plan” included the re-development and aesthetic and functional upgrading of various areas of the historic city centre to meet regulations. A careful study of the original architectural and lighting projects, together with technological developments introduced over the years, led to the decision to retain the overall design conceived by Mengoni some 150 years ago and carried out using the most advanced technique available at the time: gas! The wall-mounted globes used for the general lighting of the promenade and of the lower part of the Galleria were retained, as well as the existing system for the general lighting of the upper parts of the façades, the central dome and the vaults. New generation 150W metal halide lamps, fitted with ceramic burners, were installed into the 148 new small-sized projectors, featuring asymmetric optics, used to light the upper parts of the façades by aiming the light directly from the balcony towards the façades opposite. This highlighted the structure of the central dome, the decorations of the lunettes and the clock.
In Milan Architect Piero Castglioni has given the right light to many architectural spaces of historical and cultural importance, including the Sala Alessi in Marino Palace, Cadorna Railway Station, Brera Bookshop, Arcimboldi Theatre with Architect Vittorio Gregotti, Portello District, Garibaldi Complex – Porta Nuova and City Life .
Orsay Museum where architecture became a big lighting device, the reflections of light bulbs with walls and ceilings create a uniform light without shadows. Groups of projectors in Grassi Palace recall a small football field. Here was born a new type of lighting device. Reflector lamps and articulated support gives life at the "Cestello". Spasa na Krovi is a perfection of Mantova project. Light beams aggregation allow the device size reduction and the dispersion light control.