At the end of a tiny street south of Città Studi, a small apartment hides from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The building that welcomes it has a beautiful 1930s façade, painted in a warm Milanese yellow: but the protagonist is a lively wisteria plant, which for years has enjoyed climbing, veiling windows and balconies.
The Palladian floors in the atrium and the steps in Carrara marble, which time has made more precious, conclude this decò atmosphere.
In a corner of this beautiful building, we found an apartment with a small balcony and beautiful floors, but all facing north.
A long entrance corridor, at first sight a dark and wasted space, became the first of the places to confront: to return all the windows to the visible space of the house, allowing light to reconquer this small private world.
The first gesture shortened the corridor, removing the wall that separated it from the living room and freeing the solidity of a column cast on site. The light reflecting off the rough concrete surface approaches the entrance. Here a foyer in a fresh green colour hides a shoe rack and very useful cabinets and helps to divide the space into a sequence of small rooms.
Once this passage has been overcome, we get our first view of the most open space of the home, as it begins to narrate its ambiguous story, between open space and a sequence of rooms. The distribution space, which previously ran tightly between the small service spaces with windows and the blank border wall, disappears definitively in a sequence of rooms each with its own window to the world.
The heart of the home, with its black tile floor restored to its original luster, is defined by a few but very necessary volumes.
The first, a large corner French door, illuminates the most convivial space in the house.
A free-standing kitchen in blue metal, with a stainless-steel worktop, together with white ceramic tiles with staggered layout, help build the backdrop for the convivial domestic space.
On the perimeter on the opposite side of the pantry, a storage unit plays at making the wall: it takes on its colour and proportions but deviates from this by becoming a volume, suspended on an arabesque marble step.
The pantry is a compact volume that hides the cleaning products, laundry and untidiness, behind a coloured curtain and an arched doorway.
The desire to bring as much natural light as possible into the liveliest parts of the house was the basis for the radical relocation of the service spaces.
The central volume, which previously contained the kitchen and bathroom, is moved to the darkest part of the house. Creating the new blind bathroom frees up the windows for other uses. For technical reasons, the floor of the new bathroom and hallway is raised by one step with respect to the existing floor level, becoming a habitable platform. In this space, which would be a passageway, and further proportioned by a lowered ceiling, there is a bright London style bar counter, for morning breakfasts or for working from home.
The materiality of the existing floors, so rich and traditionally decorative, is balanced by the use of a clear monochromatic resin, a cold grey that captures and reflects the light throughout the house.
A natural oak worktop, under the double window, provides a place of direct contact with the outside world, with the private street below, the Milanese sky and the green wisteria plant that emerges from the nearby buildings.
Set back from the windows, the bathroom is lit by two portholes that pierce the wall just above eye level.
White 10x10 square tiles with earthy red grout cover the bathroom. The wall-hung vanity unit is lacquered in a deep blue, topped with an arabesque marble countertop, and complemented by large white handles. This strongly material composition acts as a counterpoint to the geometric texture of the wall coverings.
Through a romantic arched doorway, the master bedroom suite is discovered set upon a bright red tiled carpet; a meticulous composition that preserves what remains of a typical Milanese domestic interior of the time. Well lit by the double glass doors of the small balcony, the master bedroom, separated from the rest of the house, offers a quiet and private place to rest.
The large walk-in closet, made of oak and covered with a rattan weaving (which lets the light filter in, gifting both light and privacy), builds a further volume within the space. A handrail helps to contain a small living space above the walk-in wardrobe, accessible by a steel staircase on one side – a space for yoga and relaxation.
A second ribbed glass door illuminates and connects the changing room of the wardrobe directly with the large shower in the bathroom. The circularity of the paths multiplies the possibilities of use, movement and interaction between straightforward material surfaces, the people who live with them and the light that touches them.
Place: Milan, Italy
Architectural Design: ATOMAA
Design Team: Umberto Maj, Cesare Galligani, Andrea del Pedro Pera, Philip Kolevsohn, Viviana Ramires, Bianca Magi, Konstantinos Ballis
Photography: Francesco Carredda
General contractor: Relazioni Edili
Carpenter (bespoke furniture): Donghi Arredi
Windows: Fratelli Bergamaschi
Doors: Nuova Porte Prandi
Kitchen: Very Simple Kitchen
Steelwork: Projet Metal
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