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Canonica Residences

New, Old, Milan

deamicisarchitetti

Canonica Residences
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -

I am sure that every city has streets and thoroughfares known to everyone even if they have never been there. I am not just talking about streets famous for their stores or nightlife but those residential streets in European cities that for centuries have connected neighborhoods, and become engrained in the mental maps of citizens of the past but also of the “Sat Nav” generations of today. Milan’s Via Canonica is one of those streets.

Now a central thoroughfare, it used to lie north of the old city and link neighborhoods on the east and west in a landscape made of a medley of farmland, craft businesses and what were then nascent industries. These three social ingredients - farmers, craftsmen, and industrial workers - still constitute the modern mixité of Milan’s human fabric and what led to its typical popular housing typology:  the casa di ringhiera, a housing block with a continuous balcony running along each floor, which still today is an essential feature of contemporary Milan. Deamicisarchitetti had the good luck and honor of revitalizing one of these historic residential blocks in Via Canonica. In doing so they have given us a lesson in how tradition can be honored while realizing contemporary architecture.

The building the architects found on being assigned the brief was little more than a ruin. Scarred by remediation work after the Second World War, a new construction had been added 50 years before, completely disrupting the original structure of the popular housing complex and its frontage onto Via Canonica. The architecture practice decided to include the historic memory of the building in the new program, reinstating its former relationship with the urban scene. However, respect for the past does not subjugate to it, rather the ability to reinterpret the casa di ringhiera typology in a completely contemporary way.

The original plan of the first and second...

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