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Monday, July 25, 2011


Milanofiori in Assago, Milan, Itlay by OBR, 2010

The following text and images are courtesy OBR.

The Milanofiori housing complex is part of the master plan by Erick van Egeraat characterized by a series of functions (offices, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, leisure, residences) that together define a cluster whose elements appear to follow the characteristics of the surrounding landscape, creating a public park as the extension of the existing forest. The design seeks the symbiosis between architecture and landscape, so that the synthesis of artificial and natural elements could define the quality of living and the sense of belonging by the inhabitants.

The interface between the building and the garden becomes the field where interaction between man and environment takes place. This interface is defined by the "C" form of the complex which encompasses the public park, and by the porosity from interior to exterior that characterizes all 107 apartments. The two facades are designed differently: the one facing the street outside is more urban, and the one towards the inner park is more organic. The design of the urban facade stimulates a sense of belonging thanks to the composition of white frames which identify separately the units. These frames include vertical wooden panels of different widths which can slide across the frames and control the inner light as necessary.

The organic facade overlooking the garden features double glazed bioclimatic greenhouses. The co-planarity between the glass of the greenhouse and the glass guardrail covering the string-course creates an effect where the shape of the construction and the background merge and reverse their roles constantly, producing kaleidoscopic effects overlapping the reflection of the public garden outside with the transparency of the private garden inside. The geometry of the building is shaped by translation of the upper levels in line with positions of optimum solar exposure and by tapering of the external terraces in order to increase introspection among residents. The winter garden has a double value: an environmental value in providing a buffer zone which allows thermal regulation, and an architectural value in allowing extension of the interior living space towards the exterior landscape (and vice-versa) permitting different uses from summer to winter.

Through the overlap of different natural layers (the public park, the open terraces and the winter gardens) the project seeks a kind of a holism of nature, where various personal interactions of these natural layers create an intensive landscape that is directly and personally customized by each resident. In line with ever changing developments in contemporary living, the porosity of the architecture makes Milanofiori residential complex an evolving organism, in perpetual change, preferring the dynamic exchange between architecture and nature and stimulating the interaction between man and environment.

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