his stunning modern apartment is in an old granary conversion. The owners are two art lovers, part of the Milanese cultural scene. And after years of renting this space out as offices (at one time also the Italian office of British architect David Chipperfield), they decided to convert the entire building into apartments. What’s more, they even decided to settle here.
We are in the Darsena district of South Milan, just before the old town centre and close to where the docks used to be. Silos were the first buildings to be constructed here, they were used for storing grain, which was harvested from the surrounding fields and then carried by boat along the canals. And it was precisely then that this building was used for grain storage. This comes across in the building’s hollow stunted structure, supported by sturdy granite pillars, which in turn carry the entire weight of the vaulted ceiling.
The city of Milan was originally built with an extensive network of canals. During the late Middle Ages, when the city was the centre the best hydraulic engineers in Europe, the existing network was greatly improved. However, during the first decades of the twentieth century, many of these canals were filled in due to health reasons and subsequently, right after the Second World War, almost all of the remaining network was paved, making way to cars. Nonetheless, there’s an area where the mistreated “navigli” have survived and the ambitious Expo 2015 construction project can at least be seen as the first attempt to bring water back to the Darsena and to the few canals left.
Perfect for design studios, this open-plan space had to be upgraded to suit the needs of contemporary living. The owners wanted to preserve the original character of the building and its open-plan layout, however they had to build some private quarters.
The refurbishment project was overseen by Architect Filippo Taidelli, who decided to split the home into two main areas. The bedroom quarters were built by inserting different volumes into the structural web formed by the pillars. Partition walls in contrasting colours visually break up the period details, as well as enhancing them. On the other hand, the living quarters were designed as a large open-plan space, facing the kitchen.
In this case, a happy relationship between clients and architect, both extremely exacting but also open minded and ready to dialogue, gave life to a bright and airy home. Here, under historic vaults, harmoniously coexist modern interior design, period furniture, antique paintings and contemporary works of art. Furthermore, there are many stunning quality pieces, collected by the owners throughout the years, who have steered clear of filling every nook and cranny, making sure each piece had enough visual space. This is one of golden rules of interior design.
Conversion of an old granary from office building into apartments
Location: Milan, Italy
Size: 200 sqm
Rossi Bianchi Lighting Design, Milan
Credits Andrea Rossetti
Courtesy Filippo Taidelli Architetto