Projects

Private residence - Milan (Italy)

The past life of a (mini) loft

A functional open space with a strong character, largely achieved through the use of visually striking and eco-friendly ceramic floor tiles.
Author
Laura Ragazzola
Photos
Luciano Busani
Surfaces
MONOCIBEC
Year of completion
2013

The traces of the former commercial space are still visible in some architectural elements left intentionally intact: the high ceiling, the elongated layout and the two-part windows with opaque lower sections. The remodelling project for this mini-loft in Milan had the merit of turning an anonymous commercial space (55 square metres plus a 20 square metre mezzanine) without making major changes and instead enhancing the characteristics of the original space.
Above all the aim of the project was to clean up the spaces, rationalise routes and functions and improve illumination. This was achieved through specific solutions in terms of materials, colours and lighting.
The homeowner, a young professional, was looking for a functional, practical and uncluttered space but without sacrificing character or atmosphere.
So every square centimetre of the limited floor space was used to the full through intelligent choices focusing on new resources and sources of energy.
The starting point was the poor layout of the apartment, a kind of wide corridor that made it difficult to organise the spaces into clearly defined rooms. This prompted the decision to emphasise the sense of space and perspective by using new ceramic planks that extend seamlessly along the floor through the entire apartment. They begin in the entrance hall, which has been converted into a walk-through kitchen with on one side the bathroom door, then continue into the living area overlooked by the mezzanine bedroom (partly enclosed by a plasterboard module).
The result is outstanding in terms of both colour and function. The pale coloured wood effect lends brightness and space to the rooms, while the choice of porcelain ensures ease of maintenance and outstanding durability. The tiles are from the Echo collection produced by Emilia-based company Monocibec (colour Gardenia), which meets the latest environment protection requirements with low-impact raw materials and eco-friendly production cycles.
But while simplicity and linearity are the common characteristics of the floor, the renovation project chose bold colours for the walls with the aim of enhancing certain details while hiding others. A lemon yellow colour highlights the entrance, then continues along the loadbearing elements of the structure (beams and columns) into the mezzanine bedroom area, while an intense brown colour emphasises the lowered volume of the kitchen space, almost camouflaging the furnishings, likewise dark in colour. On the remaining wall the dominant tone is the neutral cream colour, replacing the more anonymous white. Here and there, furnishing objects (such as a painting or candles) recall the bold colours of the architectural details, likewise becoming key features of the project.
There are also plenty of space-saving solutions. One example is the masonry staircase (the steps are clad with porcelain like the floor), which on the side facing the living room houses shelves and storage units in place of bulky items of furniture.
Last but not least, the lighting solutions play an important part in the renovation project because they emphasise the asymmetric volumes and colour variations of the spaces. These include the line of LEDs running along the yellow wall beam (including the mezzanine bedroom area) and the light points suspended in the corridor/kitchen, with industrial style exposed wires. The large suspended lamp hanging in the living room is reminiscent of the models used in factories, as though to symbolise of the past life of this small loft in Milan.

Tiles
Monocibec, Echo series
Type
porcelain stoneware
Sizes
16.2x100 cm
Colours
Gardenia
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): conforme
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): conforme
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
ECOLABEL
LEED
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