location: Cascina Merlata – Milan
built-up area: 28,912 sq. m
date: 2019-2020

architect: Mino Caggiula
project manager: Thomas Giuliani, Luca Zingaro
team: Andrea Maldarizzi, Joseph Copes, Fortesa Softa

The planimetric and volumetric structure is the result of the intention of combining a way of living that is collective and private at the same time, by following the principles of simplicity, versatility and modularity.

This dual nature, which is also a characteristic of the location of Cascina Merlata, reminds us of the tenements with communal balconies that are typical of Milan, which are conceptually recalled in the project. It’s a type of courtyard house with balcony access, inside of which everyday life takes place.

Starting from a volumetric model of a building with an enclosed courtyard, we made cuts that were outlined in the masterplan and that allow access on 4 sides, thus creating glimpses that frame different sceneries. These flows meet in a public space in the middle, thus emphasising the permeability between the elements of the planimetric and volumetric structure: the park, the square, the boulevard, the R6 playground. The volumes are conceived within a development, an upward flow that culminates with the tower, a symbol of urbanity and a landmark, which however isn’t a single, separated body but rather is an integral part of the composition. The gradual vertical growth is based on a study on open views, shadows and sun angles that allow the buildings to have the best exposure possible.

In line with the volumetric concept, the two types of façade, with their formal appearance, recall the tenement with communal balconies. The urban side is characterized by a more enclosed situation where fullness prevails over emptiness, whereas the second type of façade draws inspiration from the balconies by using railings and vertical elements, thus creating a permeable, transparent cover, which can be adjusted for privacy reasons. The balconies are for independent, personal use but also for collective use in a way, thus making the façade alive and dynamic. The two façades blend into one going upwards: the goal is to lend a sense of lightness and elegance to the majestic volumetric structure.

The double façade, so the dual nature – private on the side of the park and public on the side of the city – applies to every living unit, in which the bedrooms are on the enclosed side while the living rooms are on the open side. The layouts are designed to be modular: the entire complex indeed consists of only 6 types of apartments, which are combinable and modifiable.

This duality flows and also applies to the raised internal courtyard which, by means of its architecture, transforms into a meeting place with the public green area that blends with the park and defines the distances. The architectural result of the structure of the planimetry, the volumetry and the façade guarantees multiple living solutions that can be adapted to the different market demands.

The tradition of tenements with communal balconies combined with contemporary comfort.