Ph. © Stefano Gusmeroli

17/09/2021 – Another historic building in Milan gets a makeover. I study Asti Architects has completed the retail and office redevelopment of a significant “piece” of the city: the nineteenth-century building between via Moscova and via Solferino called the “Cortile della Seta”.

First barracks of the Napoleonic Cavalry and then military bakery of the Austrian government, in the mid-nineteenth century the building, located on the border of Brera with Porta Garibaldi, was transformed into the “Silk Courtyard”, becoming the pivot of commercial negotiations and meeting point for traders and artisans.
After years of apparent abandonment, the Asti Architetti project today redesigns the street front, the large covered courtyard and the new glass roof.

The intervention was aimed at the redevelopment of the courtyard-shaped office block, typical of Milanese buildings, with four levels above ground and a basement that has developed in a continuous transition between maintenance and new construction, thus creating a happy combination of old and new. In addition, the building meets the NZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Building) requirements, uses over 50% of energy produced from renewable sources and is LEED Gold certified.

“The restoration project did not distort the perception of the city and neighboring buildings, on the contrary it was aimed at increasing the relationship with the surrounding urban context”, points out Paolo Asti.

The existing windows on the street fronts have been enlarged: the geometry of the new windows is aimed at maintaining the original characteristics of the facade unaltered and is in continuity with the adjacent urban fabric: “The shape of the new windows – aligned with the existing windows on the upper floors – was inherited from the current corner entrance between Moscova and Solferino streets, of the bank branch, introduced with the post-war reconstruction of 1954”, specifies the architect.

Another important intervention was the positioning of a new glass roof of the central courtyard, consisting of a scan of sheds of different sizes; this type of roof, in addition to allowing considerable daylight, is intended to be a reference to the original industrial function. The tax of this new coverage remains in fact unchanged compared to the original coverage, which dates back to 1904.
The intent was to maintain the perception of belonging to an architectural “unicum” while raising its quality and energy performance also thanks to the use of modern architectural elements for the treatment of the facades facing the central interior space that has been redefined. with a new “covered square” and multifunctional layout.

The property houses both retail and office activities. 75% of the office spaces in Loro Piana were leased, including the internal courtyard, and two other lease agreements have still been signed – with Flexform SpA and Calligaris Group (for the Calligaris, Ditre Italia and Luceplan brands) – for two retail unit.

The top two floors, redefined with a continuous glazed covering, are configured as a real “lantern” over the city, deliberately detaching themselves from the historical context below and presenting themselves as a privileged workplace: immersed in light, overlooking Milan. As Paolo Asti pointed out: “The glass roof represents the envelope of new volumes brought upwards following a skilful handling of the internal surfaces”.

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