Milan’s modern architecture has always been characterized by inner courtyard buildings and the typical case di ringhiera (tenement with communal balconies). This consideration has led the Rome based studio Westway Architects (Architects Luca Aureggi and Maurizio Condoluci) to conceive an original renovation project of a building dating back to 1882, at the time intended for popular housing for rent, at Viale Monte Grappa 16.
The new residential complex located in the area between Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi, which has become the symbol of the Milan of today, seems to connect the past with the present.
On the perimeter of the demolished old building, the new building, intended for commercial and residential use, has been built ensuring sustainability standards (energy certification CENED Class A) and adopting advanced technological and design solutions.
The building has a new façade that, respecting the environmental and historic constraints, has been redesigned by keeping the original nineteenth-century aesthetic, changing just a single detail: the two upper floors, used to finally align in height the new building with neighboring buildings, are enclosed in a glass skin. “It’s an element that breaks the rigor of the nineteenth century façade and declares the contemporary intervention, outlining all aspects of design: internal distribution, construction features, materials, housing standards, high energy performance and transition to mixed-use” declares the architect Maurizio Condoluci.
The court with eyes
The surprise that one can experience when opening the door of a historic Milanese building, is confirmed in this prestigious building at Viale Monte Grappa, whose court is divided horizontally by a suspended garden that separates the commercial ground floor, from the residential area. The residential part develops vertically in different buildings with different heights, from four to six floors above the court. The continuity between the two levels, commercial and residential, is given by two trees that pierce, with two large elliptical eyes, the suspended terrace cover overlooked by 25 apartments of different sizes and shapes.
“The units around the court have different heights and large terraces to give different horizontal and vertical views, avoiding the closure effect of the original scheme. Inside, the paths are divided by contrasting densities in order to increase the perception of lightness on the lower floors through a dilated spatiality, opposing to what happens on the outside of the building” explains architect Luca Aureggi.
The materials and greenery amplify perceptions
Once inside, the contrast of the woodwork for the vertical and horizontal surfaces up to the third floor and the Bedonia stone, from the fourth to the sixth floor, defines the spaces and enhances sensory perception. The galleries, inspired by original scheme of the nineteenth century, are no longer public but private and usable as livable outdoor spaces, transforming the traditional tenements in modern homes, where the green terraces and the common areas complete the feeling of comfort and overall visual perception.
The functional home
As for the exterior, in the apartments every single detail is thoroughly taken care of, with a functional distribution focused on and domestic spacing and fine materials and finishes. In line with increasingly sophisticated needs, they are also characterized by contemporary design furniture, such as the sliding glass walls (Rimadesio) and the kitchens (Boffi) including appliances.