A House Of Crimson Flames

"You have to love life to love architecture; the architecture is a manifestation, in fact, a very important one, of life; without life, what happens to architecture?"

- Fernando Tavora

Milanese apartments often have something that ties them together, beyond entrances that are too small or enormous or elongated kitchens. Something that tends to organize, divide space, build rooms. The rooms have a door. They are divided from each other and look out. Sometimes the doors slam when they close, making a noise you won’t forget.

Beginning again by changing house, moving to Milan, perhaps also means dealing with distances, the proportions of spaces. In reality we don’t know if geography is central, and how it comes into play in this project.

But in this house in the suburban streets of Milan, the distribution of the plan aims to reaffirm the thickness of the body of a Milanese building, as there are many, freeing diagonal views and eliminating the world made up of rooms. It wants to try to unite, not to divide, to “dissolve, not to tear”.

The Canada of novels and cinematic film wants to convey to us infinite landscapes, conifers, lakes, the cold outside and the warmth in the living rooms.

This is why there are few doors, and they are not all the same, and they do not all close in the same way; some have a single door and are two hundred and ten high, others have double swinging doors and contain coats and another that looks like a wall, balanced and as high as the ceiling, and colorful and always open. Not all doors always close, some rarely and some never.

This is also the case among the veins of the Alpi Sottsass that form the storage totem positioned to the side, in a strange object that speaks and gestures and interacts with its various sides, mirrored towards the entrance, a bar corner towards the sofa and a wine cellar towards the dinner table.

The space which, as we know, is in the void between things, has an almost liquid shape which does not stop but continues along the walls from one side to the other, and comes to rest near the window, in front of the trees of the courtyard.

The surfaces want to be coloured, or rather they want to be color and matter. The concrete floor is not designed but built from drops of poured pigmented cement, in an ambiguous mix between some Silipol from the Milanese underground, the chromatic choices of Pirellone linoleum and a painting by Jackson Pollock. The resin of the aubergine coloured platform plays with the almost majorelle blue of the bathroom, the wallpaper there pays homage to Picasso, deservedly so.​

“we should always keep in mind that space is jagged around every cherry tree and every leaf on every branch that moves in the wind, and every serration on the edge of every leaf, and also shapes itself on every leaf vein, and on the network of veins inside the leaf and on the piercings with which the arrows of light riddle it at every moment, everything printed in negative in the paste of the void, so that there is nothing that does not leave its mark, every possible footprint of every possible thing, and at the same time every transformation of these footprints moment by instant, so that the pimple that grows on the nose of a caliph or the soap bubble that settles on the breast of a washerwoman changes the general shape of space in all its dimensions”.

(Italo Calvino, Le Cosmicomiche, Milan, 1993)

Everything is colourful, and why shouldn’t it be? The owners have a passion for graphics, materials and vivid colour. Only one of the black and white bathrooms remained, like a squared notebook yet to be written (or coloured?).

Then the walls slowly become populated and collect pieces of previous times, where the handles make movements with the hands and the paintings tell stories of family friends and tram posters. Slowly the house stops being a construction site and begins to live, to re-live.

“Life continued because life continues, and time passed, because time passes.”

- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is illuminated


Client: Private
Typology: Apartment
Place: Milan, Italy
Year: 2023.09
Sqm: 100
Project Design: ATOMAA & Fabio Figaroli
Design Team: Umberto Maj, Andrea del Pedro Pera, Cesare Galligani, Fabio Figaroli, Philip Kolevsohn, Marika Grasso, Andrea Giustozzi
Photographer: Francesco Stelitano

Project Partners

Contractor: Relazioni Edili RE
Carpenter (bespoke furniture): Donghi Arredi
Windows: Fratelli Bergamaschi
Doors: Donghi Arredi
Kitchen: Donghi Arredi
Steel work: QUBO costruzioni metalliche
Carpenter: Console MATE Design
Bespoke Paving: Mosaic Factory