Located on the corner of Viale della Liberazione and Viale Melchiorre Gioia in Milan, The Corner involves the redevelopment of a property of the Generali Group dating from the 1970s by Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia / AF517.
The Corner has recently been awarded a 2022 International Architecture Awards Honorable Mention by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The existing building presents itself as an articulated and complex body bringing the old building back to life through a new identity.
The start of the project was the sentinel of a kind of boundary between territory, industrial settlements, and infrastructures as well as the beginning of the urban city, in a change of scale and immediate perception, strong, almost alienating.
The city was the background with the building as the threshold to entering from the northwest into the metropolitan city of Milan.
Over the years, the roles of the areas in the city have been inverted according to a slow and courageous metamorphosis that has changed its use, destinies, perceptions, and dimensions.
At the limits of that threshold, the building retains its role of “presence-pre-existence” and a new urban and contemporary centrality was born and continues to develop.
From a boundary between areas, the building is at the center of that transformation.
From a forerunner of urban plots, it now becomes the background of the new urban park and urban perspective between two squares: Repubblica and Gae Aulenti.
The building’s destiny could have been the one of emulating the new contemporary language and becoming part of the whole, thus losing its unique identity and role.
Instead, a more courageous vision was chosen: a project that emphasizes its “presence-pre existence” and at the same time, through the instrument of dialogue with the new context, affirms its precise identity both urban and architecturally.
Each elevation, from the “public” to the “intimate,” takes on material and linguistic dimensions that relate primarily to the building’s new urban role (urban boulevard / viale Liberazione, square / urban park / via Melchiorre Gioia).
This is declared on the corner where the two urban landscapes meet, where the spaces expand and compress, and where the sky moves from naturally to artificially reflected on the Varesine towers.
Rhythm, sequence, matter, color, volume: the intention was to reinforce the nature of the building constructed with an intense and repetitive structural pattern that the designers took as a pentagram on which to lean also for the elevation.
They chose not to pursue gestures or stratifications of volumes or languages foreign to the building and place, but to be part of it, indicating simple traces of this “vertical” growth.
The Corner thus takes its name naturally from its foundational design idea, making clear that the angle of a building in the city can and must be a point of narration of the city, of its time between the times, of its perceptive relationship with the context.
Architecture must speak to us, in the present time and in the future; it must declare some choices that should be beyond the purely aesthetic question.
Buildings belong to the history of a city and therefore to the history of the people who participate in their construction and development.
The nineteenth-century European and American cities imagined in the urban corners and in its representative buildings a kind of entrance door, an urban threshold that brought to the attention the special points of the city.
Today, The Corner emphasizes with its identity the new urban centrality of Milan, accompanied by contemporary buildings and a large “library of trees.”
The designers brought the park of the “trees” to the foot of the building, letting it in by creating a porch and a “mirror” shelter, capable of eliminating for a few moments the physical limit between inside and outside, between public and private, between collective and intimate.
The project is a perceptive system of reality and the relationship between light and shadow that brings a kaleidoscope of changing effects that measure the time of day, weeks, months, and years.
It generously recreates with its new volume a crown made of linear, punctual terraces, small open courtyards, and a large courtyard imagined as an urban playground.
The project includes an overlay of two floors onto the existing building, and a reconstruction of the facades of the existing building, including the fronts towards the inner courtyard and those of the lower body.
It also includes the redevelopment of the ground floor, including the porches and the shelter on Melchiorre Gioia, as well as the implementation of new terraced areas both on the roof of the building and above the lower body on the inside of the court.
The architects planned a redevelopment of the building’s plant system, through the use of renewable sources and high-performance systems with low power consumption.
The building has achieved Class A and LEED Silver certification and has been adapted to the seismic and fire regulations currently in force.
Project: The Corner
Architects: Atelier(s) Alfonso Femia / AF517
General Contractor: Costruzioni Generali Gilardi SpA
Client: Generali Real Estate SGR
Photographers: Stefano Anzini