An eclectic style and custom-made terracotta elements
FORNACE S. ANSELMO
Located in Milan’s city centre, this four-storey building dating from the 1920s has undergone a renovation and extension project led by the architectural firm deamicisarchitetti. The project involved the restoration of the basement and the penthouse floor, along with the construction of a new floor to expand the Residenze Elba living space, resulting in nine residential units encompassing approximately two thousand square metres.
The building’s original style drew inspiration from neo-Romanesque and neo-Renaissance aesthetics, requiring the architects to seamlessly integrate new elements into the existing context. Rossella Destefani, partner architect at deamicisarchitetti and head of business development and public relations, explains: “The primary objective of the project was to preserve the essence and compositional harmony of the original architecture. Our primary focus was therefore on the new structures, while taking care not to disrupt the cohesion and character of the existing building. Additionally, we paid close attention to the materials, attempting to reinterpret the theme of decorative terracotta, a defining feature of the building’s façades.”
To achieve this, the penthouse renovation involved making only minor changes to the roof pitches in order to restore the material and morphological characteristics of the existing roof with the utmost authenticity. However, new terracotta elements were used for the new roof covering and for the parapet of the roof terrace created by altering the roof’s slope and mirroring the architectural details of the lower floor cornices. “The roof extension consists of a small, extensively glazed contemporary volume built on the level of the terrace, which is encircled by a flat projecting structure clad with prefabricated terracotta elements. This structure serves a dual purpose: shielding the transparent façades and providing shade,” continue the architects. This aspect of the project presented the most significant challenge, necessitating in-depth structural and compositional analysis, along with the requirement to maintain stylistic consistency throughout the entire design.
Selection of the materials and finishes played a crucial role in the project. “For the conservative part of the project, wooden window frames, wrought iron grilles, curved clay roof tiles and terracotta decorative elements were used,” explain the architects. “Even in areas where the architecture of the extension project diverges from the formal and stylistic elements of the past, the materials were chosen according to the same guiding principles. This enabled them to blend seamlessly with the contemporary design while simultaneously creating an engaging aesthetic contrast with the existing colours and textures. As a result, the fired brick cladding of the projecting floor echoes and reinterprets the architectural styles of the façades, typical of the Lombardy tradition of the period.” For the terracotta elements, the architects turned to Sant’Anselmo for its artisanal approach coupled with a forward-thinking vision, resulting in a willingness to offer customised solutions while placing a strong emphasis on the sustainability of the overall design. Sant’Anselmo terracotta is crafted entirely from natural materials, including quartz, clay and natural colours, and it is formulated to avoid releasing harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment.
Terracotta custom made elements