A virtuous suburb
Novate Milanese is part of Milan’s northern suburbia, close to the motorway and Balossa park. The railway station and municipal council offices are located nearby. This typical Milanese landscape is home to a particularly interesting residential complex. The whole area, like much of metropolitan Milan, is extremely varied in terms of development and architecture. Visitors are struck by a sense of disorder, triggered by a dramatic mix of buildings constructed in different decades since the Second World War and varying extensively in size, height and façade type.
One of the main objectives of architect Cristian Giazzoli and his studio, who were commissioned to plan the complex and to direct work carried out by the Miculi construction company, was to design a building capable of aesthetically and functionally linking the motley assortment of blocks surrounding it, and to find an architectural language and form able to turn the construction (which stands at a major crossroads) into a distinctive but not extravagant local feature.
In the architect’s own words, “The location is surrounded by blocks of different type and appearance. Some of the residential buildings, dating back to the 1960s and 70s, are quite tall and typical of cooperative style constructions. The more recently redeveloped ex-Cucirini factory building is more interesting in its composition. We particularly needed to relate to that, because some of the ground level spaces and the routes interconnecting the surrounding roads are shared by our complex. The block to the east of Via Raffaello Sanzio contains extremely mixed architecture, and another block near the railway, a classic multi-apartment residence refurbished in the 1980s, has a row of industrial buildings alongside extending to the end of the road. In short, we were dealing with a typical agri-industrial area of Milanese suburbia, with buildings varying from 10 to nearly 20 metres in height.”
In this rather ramshackle context, Giazzoli’s residential complex is a flat-roof construction with a varying, modular shape that blends in harmoniously with the older buildings around it. The complex consists of fifteen apartments accessed via two stairwells. A first underground floor provides lockup garages for residents’ cars while a second contains storage units. “The planimetric and volumetric layout of the complex”, the architect continues, “features a rising façade that begins at the recent, two-storey building bordering Via Sanzio and reaches its maximum height at Via Volta where it aligns with the buildings in nearby blocks. The construction ranges from two to four floors, the top floor being an attic, and has a grid of pillars supporting the tallest section. This solution achieves a good relationship between space and mass. It also provides common, open areas on the ground floor and achieves a better visual and practical correlation between the interior and exterior.” It should be added that the design has also created an open space, partly covered by the overhanging structure of the upper floors, where lawns and borders combine with a walkway to create a mini-garden.
The various floors, connected by lifts and elegant stairways, are laid out in dissimilar ways and consist of apartments with different floor plans, each with a front balcony overlooking the road and a back balcony overlooking the courtyard. The two attic apartments even have a terrace running around three sides of the building.
This varied interior layout is reflected, at different intervals, by changes in the elevation. The ventilated façade is covered in large stoneware tiles while the recesses are finished in a system of insulation and coloured plaster. Giazzoli explains: “We chose Sand colour stoneware wall tiles from the Rethink collection by Cerim, one of the brands of the Florim Group, because their uniform finish and typical colour are perfect for the sober look we wanted for the project, and stand out from the surroundings without too much contrast. Our choice of Cerim material was also partly dictated by an important and often underestimated technical consideration: Cerim supplies a genuine turnkey system in the form of structure and covering together.”
Cerim take great care over important details like corners, aluminium perimeter profiles, window surrounds, stairwell sunshades, and customised tile formats. This commitment to quality finish explains the choice of Florim Group tiles for the floors and walls of the apartments (excluding areas of wood block floor) and for the floors of the underground storage units, utility rooms and pillared area.
Rethink of Cerim
20x120, 30x120, 60x120cm
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,08%
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant