Transforming the former agricultural consortium of Milan into a residence for over 700 students is a challenge that brings into play creative and design sensibility and prompts a search for innovative solutions. The project – Ripamonti 35 – creates a communal environment that offers opportunities for dialogue, networking and synergies, at the same time protecting each individual’s private sphere. Ripamonti 35 promotes high quality informal hospitality. The complete retrofitting of the existing complex and the new building stem in the first place from a careful exam of the place and the historical memory represented by the former agricultural consortium.
Via Ripamonti 35, Milan
LEED Gold – Core & Shell
Artistic site supervision
Filippo Pagliani, Michele Rossi
Marco Panzeri (Project Leader)
Marinella Ferrari, Enrico Sterle, Alessandro Rossi, Elisa Borghi, Gloria Caiti, Andrea Riva, Erica Fassi, Irene Serracca Guerrieri, Davide Viganò, Ismail Seleit, Simone Caimi, Fabio Calciati, Mario Frusca, Stefano Vengoni (Rendering)
General Site Supervision
Ing. Sergio Baisini, Boario Terme (BS)
Perelli Consulting, Milano
Park Associati, Milano
Plants, Leed Certification and Fire Prevention
ESA ENGINEERING, Firenze
F&M Ingegneria, Milano
The agricultural consortium of Milan is an important witness to a transition era in which the city, by then committed to industrialization, was also the centre and linchpin of a vast agricultural territory that was still very active. It is no coincidence that Gabriele Basilico included the building in his historic photographic series of “Ritratti di Fabbriche” documenting its ponderous presence in an area that, at the time, represented the border between urban fabric, new suburbs and agricultural land.
The complex is situated in one of the most appealing districts of Milan, an area that has been recently attracting new cultural and tertiary settlements such as Fondazione Prada, the headquarters of Fastweb and those of important universities such as the Università Bocconi, Università Cattolica, NABA and IED.
On the ground floor, characterized by transparency and fluidity, the entrance hall establishes visual continuity between interior, exterior and the central courtyard. Rather than just responding to an aesthetic requirement, this choice seeks a new relationship between the city and the building, opening up campus life to the surrounding urban fabric. Unlike what happens in the United States, in Europe the new campuses and student residences are in direct contact with city life to meet the requirements of those who choose this type of accommodation also for long periods while completing master and doctor’s degrees.
The new building that is part of the refurbishment of the central section of the former Agricultural Consortium is in contrast with the existing architecture; this creates two opposing architectural languages that highlight the difference between past and present. On the outside, dark plaster and the addition of a sandstone base maintain the building’s semi-industrial character.
The façade of the new building inside the campus features a pattern alternating glass and anodized aluminium panels. The exterior is characterised by modularity, its horizontal and vertical modules marked by prefabricated fibre cement elements at regular intervals. Here the colour is lightened thanks to glazing, warm grey plaster sections and livelier, brighter inserts that help soften the building’s volume. Modular marking responds to a direct form-function relationship: the façade reflects the division of interior spaces, the modular character of the exterior maximizes the full-empty relationships. In this case too, the language used represents a break with the pre-existing features.
The building’s ground floor accommodates areas for meetings, conferences and exhibitions, a cafeteria and study areas. The courtyard – an outdoor agora designed to host events – is the campus’ core. The interiors are extremely flexible and feature various types of accommodation: from the single room to the studio with kitchen and mezzanine for two people. For those wishing to combine the privacy of their own room with moments of contact with people who share nearby spaces – thus creating a system of less anonymous relationships – there are small ad hoc clusters designed to house up to 12 people.
Alternating a palette of warm bright colours – from the pastels of the cladding to the forest green and warm grey of the floors – with traditional materials such as wood, metal and fabric and sandstone, the rooms and studies offer sober but welcoming environments that are both functional and comfortable. Featuring armchairs, sofas, phone booths, swings, hammocks, bookcases and study tables, the corridors leading to the accommodation become places of communal life thanks to the inclusion of amenities and areas for relaxation and socialization and for sharing leisure or study time. Those inhabiting these spaces will have the opportunity to share a space where they can exchange ideas and make new acquaintances or retire to the privacy of their own room. They will be able to enjoy facilities and retail services, and will inhabit an ecosystem designed as a small community or a large collective residence interacting with the city.