Living in a Park / MAB Arquitectura + BMS Progetti Srl

© Paolo Riolzi

Architects: MAB Arquitectura
Location: Via Gallarate, Milano,
Client: Comune di Milano
Intervention: Social Housing, Public Space, and Park
Structural Engineer: Ing. Gabriele Salvatoni
Technical Installations: BETA Progetti
Site Area: 33,860 sqm
Public Space Area: 30,000 sqm
Built Area: 20,683 sqm
Cost: 24.500.000 €
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Paolo Riolzi

master plan

Previous State

The intervention is located on a long and very narrow plot. The site face the residential neighbourhood Gallaratese on the south side and new development areas on north site and is limited by a perifery road charaterized by intense car flow.

The land was free and only occupied by temporary illegal kiosks. The plot area is 36.000 sm : 3ha of park, public space and public facilities.


Aim of Intervention

The project consist of 184 apartments of Social Housing, services and public space.

In 2005 the City of Milan advertised an international design competition, “Living in Milan-New Urban Spaces for Public Housing Development”, with the goal of creating public housing developments. It offers an occasion for re-opening a full reflection on the public city in phisical and social terms. Our practice won the competition.

© Paolo Riolzi

The project, focuses on one of the most relevant issues regarding the city, particulary related to social living, public dimension and community neighborhood. The main aim was to establish places of new “urbanity” in marginal areas of the city .

The project is based on a new concept of social housing, a co-habitation concept between Housing and Public Space, where the tenants can live in a pedestrian environment while supported by a strong infrastructure, commerce and public services.These services are open also to the community of the existing neigborhood and will work as social connectors beetween the new and old community.

Opened in november 2009, currently live there around 60 families of the 184 that will occupy the apartments (around 500 people). It is on process the assignment of the comercial space and services: kindergarten, socio-cultural center and day center forfor elders.

© Paolo Riolzi

Description of the Intervention

The park and the publics spaces organize the intervention. They connect building, green area and paths in a continuous and unitary project.

The housing blocks are aligned along the internal pedestrian path and intersect with the green slope the park becoming part of landscape. Their height vary according to the boundary conditions: low along the pedestrian walkway and up to 10 floor on the south side, facing the dense Gallaratese neighbourhood. The construction density allows an important distance between buildings, which are located in such a way as to not face onto the existing buildings on the south, on Appennini street (maximum insolation). The built volume is concentrated in only four paints leaving the rest of site area free for public use. In each point a cluster of buildings always define a sort of public plaza served by common services.


The north side of the park, the green slope, is more irregular, with tall trees, while on the south side, towards the consolidated city, the park and public spaces are more urban. This is reflected in the vegetation typology, with clusters of low trees on a geometric distribution. This side of the park hosts outfitted areas and playground islands. The treatment of the ground level with a variation of different materials – stone, wood, field, bushes, trees – creates a complexity of usage and views from the roof floor.

The acoustic problem and the pollution produced by the traffic of Gallarate street, is solved trough the creation of a sculptural system of wall-slope with openings and enclosures which work both as a visual connection with the rural surroundings and as a noise insulation. These elements host some public facilities as a center for elderly and a multipurpose space.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Living in a Park / MAB Arquitectura + BMS Progetti Srl" 10 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
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  • isla

    i think i´ve seen this fasade atl least 2.000 times. So boring

    • blackstone

      i think I’ve seen insipid comments like this at least 2,000 times. So boring.

    • shetu

      I agree with you. (though my comment sounds even more insipid to me)

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  • JF Santana

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  • yo

    I m sorry but I ll have to agree isla.
    Those facade remind me more of a graphic pattern than actual architecture.
    I couldn t imagine living at the 4th floor of that building without a balcony.
    That must’t feel good I guess I d get the feeling of living in some kind of Novosibirsk 60s social house.

    • Rob.i

      they missed photos, so it seems there are not balconies. in fact, there are balconies on the other facade of the building, which is very open, creating an interesting contrast with the facade illustrated up here. if you go on MAB site you’ll find many photos about that.

      i appreciate the project. they tried to create an interesting complexity that is unusual when the theme is social housing. also, i like the cure for exterior spaces. i dont’t agree with the colors of the facades. they used gray and white which is very sober but a bit boring and sad at the same time.

  • badfuture

    i think that the park plan accomplishes a whole lot. look past the facade. there are spatial variations achieved by the massing of the blocks that allow so much more than the social housing of the 60′s. it is building as frame to the landscape and division, division, division of landscape. this is wholly different from the modernist notion of towers in a park where the ground plane remains undivided/untouched. much can be accomplished with simple form and material. buildings may be fabric if they allow for spatial richness.

    think of the places people love and not the facades that they love.

  • Sugumar Govindarajan

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  • Patricia Martin
  • p.d quang

    I think the interesting thing here is the concept of living in a park. By lifting the building up to creat a pathway, the project connected the private green area to public green area. It’s like bring the park into the project.
    The pattern of facade and the shape is nothing special

  • Halima Mohamed

    The concept of the living in a park is interesting. the project connect between the buildings and the green area. The facade of the building is not related to the concept.