Milan || Italy
First established as a rowing club and later transformed into a multipurpose sports center, Club Canottieri Olona 1894 is deeply rooted in the history of Milan. Its headquarters in Milan’s Navigli, or canal district, were part of a restyling project overseen by L22, a division of the Lombardini 22 group. The design brief set two key objectives: to raise awareness through quality architecture of an historic rowing club that down the years nurtured many national and international champions, and to repurpose the actual center’s environments. Typical of Milan’s 1960s architecture, the building consisted of a reinforced concrete structure with two aboveground floors and a façade featuring extensive glazed areas. Work on the existing building, a listed historical public asset, was a contemporary reinterpretation of the original,
centered on working with the existing elements with respect and transforming the structural elements into decorative ones. The redesign of the façade was one of the key elements of the project: Lightness, transparency, and permeability were the criteria behind design choices so as to maintain a constant connection between the interior and life on the outside along the Naviglio Grande. Thema’s involvement in the project centered on those elements that most influenced the restyling of the building. An expanded sheet metal finish was applied to the front of the building to frame the entrance and part of the façade, and elegantly flanks the curtain wall equipped with the special Schüco 5W50+ solution with Alucobond siding. This is punctuated by a succession of vertical fins that, following the original sweep of the glazing, recall the previous façade. A prominent position at basement level is given to the pool, around which the other areas for sports and leisure activities revolve. In this area, Thema designed and manufactured the Schüco fixed glazing aluminum window series. The heart of the repurposing, and central to the desire to consolidate the club’s connection to its surrounding area, was the new restaurant, The Rowing Club. This elegant, comfortable environment welcomes visitors with a palette of blacks, grays, and browns, illuminated by the light from the large glazed areas, constructed using aluminum windows supplied by Thema. Bringing diners closer to the surrounding natural areas in an outdoor yet protected experience, the large sunroom with glazed roof and vertical walls is a customized version of Schüco’s Greenth Technology; the Skybox volume is still under construction. L22’s restyling of the Club Canottieri Olona 1894 has created a comfortable, contemporary space where sports and hospitality coexist in a complex built on a human scale.