The third dimension
Diego De Pol
Vittorio Grassi Architetto & Partners
At the intersection between Via Filippo Turati, Via della Moscova and Via Principe Amedeo in Milan stands a square with unique characteristics within the urban setting of the city’s historic centre. Here, past memories and future promises are combined in the freeze-frame image of the present, testifying to the city’s continuous process of architectural transformation.
This process is demonstrated in particular by the stratification and contiguity of buildings dating from very different periods, including a number of authentic icons of architectural history such as the Ca’ Brutta by Giovanni Muzio (1923) and the Montecatini buildings designed by Gio Ponti between 1936 and 1951, in turn surrounded by 18th and 19th century buildings of outstanding merit. But it is the complex facing onto Via Principe Amedeo, built in 1850 to house the US consulate and now owned by the real estate giant Covivio (the fourth largest real estate company in Europe, listed on Euronext Paris and on the Italian Stock Exchange), that demonstrates how an urban regeneration project can bring together the past and future of Italian historical city centres without any sense of traumatic discontinuity. To achieve this, the design approach must be sensitive to the values of existing buildings but at the same time capable of interpreting the needs of contemporary comfort and sustainability.
The project, created by Vittorio Grassi Architetto & Partners, adopts a twofold approach of conservative restoration combined with the integration of contemporary elements. As a result, it guarantees the maximum flexibility of the interior spaces and the necessary utilities, from HVAC systems through to the extensive IT networks serving about 500 workstations distributed over a total of about 9,000 square metres on 5 floors.
Particular attention has been devoted to environmental sustainability and the use of recycled or recyclable eco-friendly materials.
“Milan is undergoing a process of increasingly inclusive and green regeneration,” says the architect Vittorio Grassi. “We have modernised this historic building and given it new functions based on concepts of sustainability and sharing and a wide-ranging eco-friendly approach. The courtyard once filled with cars has been transformed into a garden, while the roof and the internal pavilion are now glass volumes looking out onto the city.”
This attitude and sensibility are manifested on every scale, from the building structure down to the smallest detail. And as the architect explains, the choice of bathroom wall tiles was based on the same principles: “We chose Lea Ceramiche because we needed tiles that would guarantee cutting-edge performance and functionality together with sophistication and elegance, thereby integrating harmoniously into a building with a dual personality spanning history and modernity.”
Specifically, the architect opted for the Mauk collection in Slimtech laminated porcelain stoneware, produced using a revolutionary technology capable of creating ultralight modules (in this case with a thickness of just 3.5 mm) and extra-large sizes (up to 3×1 m). The original panels, cut into rhomboidal and trapezoidal modules, were installed in a combination of three different colours to create a surface with a three-dimensional effect where one can walk in the present while appreciating the depth of the past.
Lea Ceramiche, Mauk Slimtech
Rombo Cuadra, trapezio Spina
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): LA-HA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): < 175 mm2
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): > 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9