Looks can be deceptive. The elegant façade to the late 19th century building in central Milan is unchanged blending in with its historical surroundings. But pass through its main entrance and its interior tells a different story.
Thanks to a major refurbishment the ground floor has been transformed. The white painted plaster to the building’s main brick pillars and beams has been removed and are now clad in stunning champagne-coloured anodised aluminium. By also enclosing the internal courtyard with a new glazed roof, these changes have created a striking and contemporary interior.
“When I first walked inside when the project was almost finished, I thought, Wow! I really didn’t expect such a transformation,” says Vincenzo Ripepi, Sales Director for Almeco. “As I passed through the doors and entered the internal courtyard the impact was incredible, of great elegance.”
The Cordusio area of Milan where the building is located has undergone a lot of change. But given the age and architectural significance of the building, its proximity to the Duomo, and other important historical buildings, the project’s contractors (Terenzi srl and Planium srl) and architect (Milan based Barreca & La Varra) had to ensure any proposed changes complied with strict regulations. Therefore, the building’s main elevation had to be preserved and any modern interventions were mainly restricted to the interior.
“The client wanted the architect to create an interior that looked modern and original where past and present converge. Our anodised aluminium laminates met these expectations,” says Ripepi.
The fixing solution
Three different sized anodised aluminium laminates were used to clad the pillars. They were cut and pre-shaped in the production department and closely follow the original pattern of the plaster with the same modularity, featuring a short base panel, a tall middle panel, and a crown. However, to achieve a seamless appearance without showing fixing screws, the situation arose as to how the panels should be fixed to the pillars. Weighing less than one kilo per panel, aluminium’s inherent lightness contributed to resolving how to fix the panels.
The inspired solution came in the form of strong and professional magnets. Approximately four to six magnets per square metre of anodised aluminium were connected to vertical iron bars fixed to the pillars. Any cables and pipes were concealed behind the aluminium panels.
“I never imagined such a clever solution, as the panels can be detached from the pillars very easily. It’s a very fast method, required less labour, and the panels will be easy to maintain,” says Ripepi.
Champagne coloured anodised aluminium laminates
The distinct champagne colour of the anodised aluminium panels was chosen for its elegance, but also because the colour harmonised with the building’s façades. It was also considered to be a colour that would enhance the dark brown of the glazed roof structure. Different colour and tone samples were brought to the site to assess its impact on the interior, and it was decided that champagne was most suitable.
The result is stunning. A combination of the glazed roof and the consistency in tone and colour of the aluminium coating increases the refractivity of the light on the interior. The champagne-coloured anodised aluminium panels create a warm and sophisticated appearance that’s sympathetic to the building’s age while creating a modern look that’s befitting for a financial company.
“This is the first application of our anodised aluminium product on a historically important building,” says Ripepi. “Our product tends to be used on modern buildings, so it was very brave of both the client and architect to use our material in this way.”
Image provided by Planium Srl – photography Giacomo Albo