The metamorphosis of a 1930s design
  1. Home
  2. Interior Design & Contract 06
  3. The metamorphosis of a 1930s design

The metamorphosis of a 1930s design

Ersel Banking Group Offices

Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia

The metamorphosis of a 1930s design
By Editorial Staff -
Falegnameria Aresi, Lualdi have participated in the project

Classical canons reinterpreted through clean geometries and rhythmic scans gave life to and still tell the story of the former headquarters of Milan’s Società Generale Elettrica dell’Adamello. The building was designed in 1928 by the studio of Ulderico Tononi, with the collaboration of Agnoldomenico Pica, who was still a student, and Pietro Cassinoni. Taken over by the Ersel banking group, it has now been renovated and redeveloped by Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia, which sought to preserve the architectural heritage of the building as much as possible, leading to an enhancement of the structure under a contemporary lens. 

Banca Ersel  | © Stefano Anzini, courtesy Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia

The main façade displays elements that trace its history: the formal equilibrium is clearly visible from the rough ashlar base, punctuated by symmetrical windows on either side of the central round arch doorway, characterized by two lateral columns and topped by a small balcony with a French door crowned by a tympanum and, further up, by four sculptures by Leone Lodi. There is an explicit dialogue between historical eras and the capacity to insert today’s technology into these languages, highlighted by the restoration and installation of new, high-performance wooden fixtures that meet the need for energy efficiency of the building envelope and beyond. The interventions on the façade facing the courtyard are somewhat more pronounced. Standing out among these is the integrated steel addition with aluminum trim that makes the attic usable. The same formal and chromatic composition is found in the additions to the interior courtyard, which, beyond becoming a small green oasis, is an indispensable source of light for all levels of the structure, providing natural lighting from the basement to the top. The last floor also benefits from long, almost ribbon-like windows and skylights on the roof. 

Banca Ersel  | © Stefano Anzini, courtesy Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia Le porte filomuro bianche singole o doppie Barausse, come quella presente nell’area comune dedicata al ristoro, sono resistenti al fuoco con certificazione  EI 60 e fonoisolanti 30 dB.

The enhancement of this property has led to the restitution of the authentic design philosophy through a re-functionalization of the spaces, as well as through the adoption of dry technology, which features plasterboard partitions and ceilings at the basis of a flexible interior layout. Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia’s design has involved the entire building – five floors above ground, a semi-basement, and a basement. Access to the building is through a large hall, realized as a connecting environment: through a process of dematerialization of the architecture, the transparency of the lobby – echoed in the structure of the walkway above the lobby itself – and its double height create continuity between the inner courtyard and the entrance. A helicoidal metal staircase, which acts as a counterpoint to the elevator with the same cladding, connects the entrance hall to the floor above. There are minimal interventions to the main floor, the palace’s most identifiable, which features Art Nouveau windows, refined corridors, wrought-iron details by Giovanni Magnoni, and a historic, frescoed hall. 

Banca Ersel  | © Stefano Anzini, courtesy Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia

Historical details, such as the wooden doors, fit into much more minimal environments on the upper floors, which are dedicated to offices, meeting rooms and management. The latter has been articulated in a series of rooms visually connected by glass partitions. The last floor, characterized by an open space, opens toward the central courtyard thanks to a glass wall and small terrace. As Alfonso Femia explained, “We worked especially on the office floors, common spaces, lobby and central courtyard, trying to unravel a thread that would accent the original traits, even in the necessary changes, up to the metamorphosis of the façade that faces the garden. We integrated green and raised the roof discretely, emphasizing the character of Pica’s work”.

Location: Milan, Italy
Client: Caradosso 16
Completion: 2022
Gross Floor Area: 3,219 m2
Architecture, Landscape and Interior Design: Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia
Project Director: Marco Corazza
Design Architect: Arianna Dall’Occa
Main Contractor: Costruzioni Generali Gilardi 

Structures and Plant Equipment: BMS Progetti
Lighting: In-visible lab

Photography: Stefano Anzini, courtesy of Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia 

You might also like:
Contract & Interior Design 06
Contract & Interior Design 06

THE PLAN Interior Design & Contract 6 is the sixth special supplement to THE PLAN dedicated to the contract market and interior design. Out in April 2023 with THE PLAN 145, the publication brings together over 20 of the most significant projects on t... Read More

Paper Version Paper Version
12.00 €
Digital version Digital version
5.49 €
Keep up with the latest trends in the architecture and design world

© Maggioli SpA • THE PLAN • Via del Pratello 8 • 40122 Bologna, Italy • T +39 051 227634 • P. IVA 02066400405 • ISSN 2499-6602 • E-ISSN 2385-2054
ITC Avant Garde Gothic® is a trademark of Monotype ITC Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and which may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.