New Cascina Merlata development in Milan could be the future of social housing
The social housing development designed by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel brings affordability to Milan while improving livability on the city’s outskirts
The Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2 project is part of an ensemble of residential buildings designed by some of the most well-known Italian architects, and follows the Cascina Merlata masterplan conceived by ACPV in 2011. The new buildings have obtained a class A rating thanks to their energy-efficient design and low-energy impact.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Fiera Milano grounds renowned for the annual Salone del Mobile furniture fair and the MIND Milano Innovation District (ex-Expo Milan area), Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2 is the latest addition to the new residential settlement on the outer edge of the city. The area’s masterplan aims to improve livability within the urban fabric of Milan by offering essential services – such as shops, schools and transportation – within a walking distance of 15 minutes for residents. The plan also features multiple parks, public spaces, pedestrian and bike paths to enhance the city’s social and environmental sustainability.
“The goal here is to foster a sense of community and belonging while also innovating the way we design residential buildings. The masterplan and architectural guidelines for Cascina Merlata play a crucial role in ensuring that the new residents feel at home and have access to all the services they need.” – Antonio Citterio (architect, co-founder of architecture and design firm ACPV)
The Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2 project integrates two new residential buildings 7.4 and 7.5 between Via Daimler and Via Pier Paolo Pasolini, covering a floor area of 12,600 sqm. The buildings’ ground floors foster a strong relationship with the surroundings by integrating welcoming entrance areas and retail spaces. Building 7.4 overlooks the boulevard named after Italian film director, writer, and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini with its short elevation. The upper 4 floors of this 10-story volume is set back 3 meters, aligning with the design of the adjacent buildings. The 7.5 development is made up of two volumes connected by a single core: the southern portion develops 17 floors, while the tallest portion to the north has 25 floors above ground. The roof of the residential complex is designed as a garden, visible even from the street level.
“The new development advances the idea of regenerating Milan as a polycentric city. Cascina Merlata is a newly well-served area of the city where people can reach everything they need for their daily life within a 15-minute walk or ride.” – Patricia Viel (architect, co-founder of Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel)
In contrast with ACPV’s design for the first phase of residential development, the second phase buildings are composed of more robust volumes. The double-height facade design and its chromatic choices – extracted from the color palette of Ca' Brutta, Milan (by Giovanni Muzio, 1920) – seeks a dialogue with the existing composition of the residential area, while the play between solid and void spaces generate a unique quality for the building complex. On the south front of both buildings 7.4 and 7.5, a superstructure was applied to the design in order to frame the loggias and the living areas of the apartments. The composition of pillars and string courses create a kind of exoskeleton that recalls the design of the first phase development. Free from this superstructure, the tallest 25-story volume stands out from the building complex with its own formal autonomy.
Just like in the case of the first phase development, the main material used for the new residential volumes is porcelain stoneware. The pilasters and frames have a light gray tone, accentuated by dark-gray squares, while the square pattern that marks the window openings and also cover the south facade of the tallest volume from the 17th to the 24th floor are in dark gray with a glossy finish. The chromatic variations of the design, together with the sequence of full and empty spaces guarantee a balanced design solution.
“The completion of Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2 this spring will mark a major milestone in the long-standing collaboration with our client Città Contemporanea. Almost like a city within the city, this residential complex provides new alternatives for people who want to access affordable housing.” – Lorenzo Laura (architect and project director at Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, who has been following all phases of the project design by ACPV)
The new residential building complex was designed and coordinated using BIM (Building Information Modelling) digital design tools. Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2 is a virtuous example of BIM management by both the design team and the client, who oversaw the progress of the production using BIM technology. The March 2021 completion of this second phase of development designed by Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel will be soon followed by Lot R7/3 (expected to be delivered in 2024), by Lot R5/4 (expected to be delivered in 2023), and by Lot R5/1.
Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV) is an international and cross-disciplinary practice headquartered in Milan, Italy. Founded by architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel in 2000, the practice is currently involved in several international projects, embracing different scales of intervention – from master planning to mixed-use developments, to residential and commercial buildings, corporate headquarters and hotels – in collaboration with a qualified network of specialist consultants. The practice can rely on a staff of more than 130 people, coordinated by eight partners. Recent projects include luxury hotels in Europe, China and the Middle East, NOVE – an office building in Munich (Germany) –, Arte, a residential condominium in Miami (US), Nexxt–Fastweb’s new HQ in Milan, and La Bella Vita high-rise in Taichung (Taiwan).