ilanese architects Barbara Patrizio and Nadia Freducci have turned a disused attic in a light-filled top floor apartment with roof terrace; this is for a family with two growing kids, who was looking for more space. This renovation project turned a modest three-floor block of flats into a respectable building with an elegant façade and a new raised roof.
We are in Sesto S. Giovanni, which with over eighty thousand inhabitants is the largest municipality in the outskirts of the city of Milan. During the past century, Sesto S. Giovanni was one of the most important industrial districts in Italy, aptly named “La città delle fabbriche” (lit. the city of factories). However, during the last few decades, factory sirens from firms like Falck, Magneti Marelli, Breda and Campari, which is the closest to our family’s apartment, have gradually stopped. By now, several parts of the neighbourhood have already been regenerated. The site of the old Falck plant is the largest project so far, designed by Renzo Piano, a champion of regenerating the periphery, who unfortunately has just left the project after grave misconceptions. However, local inhabitants hope regeneration will continue in the right path, because roads, like the one where our family lives, have already started enjoying their much improved quality of life.
Here, the many nightmares that could hinder a renovation project all came true and if buying this building was a sound investment, discovering what kind of construction work was really needed was a nasty surprise. As a consequence, excess spending on the interiors was curtailed, bathrooms were the only exception. The underlying principle was “maxim outcome with minimum cost”, so the most economic way to decorate was with tasteful simple furniture, waiting for a more auspicious time when they could invest in some quality pieces.
There’s a wide spacing between the loadbearing oak rafters of the new roof, besides they have been whiteashed to brighten the scheme up. Rafters follow the rythm of the new windows, extending the entire height of the space. Cement-look floor tiles by Atlas Concorde.
The answer is a temporary scheme, partly minimalist and partly industrial in style. From salvage yard finds to simple and affordable Ikea pieces, which can stand a little beating from growing kids. Simplicity also guided the choice of a neutral colour scheme with large grey cement-look tiles and whitewashed oak rafters with exposed grain. Nonetheless, there are some bold accents like the black feature wall behind the kitchen, which marks out one end of the open-plan living room, stressing the most important views.
This apartment has a slight Scandinavian vibe, simple yet warm and friendly. First of all, the architects built a shell, paying great attention to detail, waiting for a time when this light-filled space could be elevated with some beautiful designer pieces. In the meantime, the current simple and practical furniture does just fine. Like Barbara Patrizio told us, while seeing the glass half full “Now this home is liveable, it works and has a certain charm. And we have some time to study what designer pieces to add”.
Renovation of the attic of a three-floor block of flats.
Location: Sesto S. Giovanni, Milan, Italy
Floors: 1 attic floor
Size: 200 sqm + oof terrace
Renovation project: 24 months
Architecture and interior design project:
Barbara Patrizio Design Lab and Nadia Freducci
via Rubens 20, Milan, Italy
Tel: 0039 02 36 58 6576
Credits Arianna Palano
Courtesy Barbara Patrizio