SPEDstudio has won second place for the Casa della Memoria Design Competition in Milan, Italy. Casa della Memoria, with an area of 185.80 sqm, will house the headquarters of some of the associations involved in the preservation and dissemination of “memory” of the conquest of freedom and democracy in Italy, as well as multi-purpose areas and exhibitions.
One can find the project site in the North-East part of the largest re-qualification zone in Milan, “Porta Nuova Isola”. The lot, 887 sqm in dimension, must confront the compact urban textures of Via Confalonieri to the North and the linear residential complex projected by the architect, Larange, to the West. To the East, the lot borders the new viability of the link between Via Volturno and Via De Castillia, while to the South there is Isola’s park area, the natural extension of the Porta Nuova gardens designed by the Petra Blaisse studio.
The South front becomes a determinate element in the articulation of Casa della Memoria’s spaces for its highly public vocation and its close relation to a continuous system of open spaces, with bike and pedestrian pathways. At the same time, the project intends to intercept the various urban pathways that are present, working on all four fronts, in the name of an elevated permeability: a permeability that, like strategy, is not limited to attack the building’s ground, but one that reverberates through all floors as well as distributive and technological choices, in the name of transparency in its broadest sense as clarity and visibility.
The second strategy employed refers to the idea of fading. The fading presupposes that there are moments of maximum intensity, in the choices of form, distribution and technology, that fade into softer registers, in a constant dilation and modification of the spaces and experiences that they make.
The memory’s collective exercise is a difficult task. It is difficult because it presupposes a continual conservation and elaboration of memories and testimonials. It also implies an incessant work of documentation and sharing that goes beyond the usual geographical and temporal borders. Moreover, it is difficult because it lives and regenerates itself in storytelling and in the transmission of historical testimonies to a vast public, especially to people of Milan.
The project, Casa della Memoria, will become a meeting place for the busy associations in this arduous work. It will be a tangible and concrete presence in the city of Milan, one that is able to give space to this dense network, often invisible but never silent, of the organizations that work daily to feed the collective memory. Conservation, Documentation, and Narration thus constitute the conceptual environment on which one articulates and organizes the quantity and planning requested by this competition’s brief.
This work of conserving the testimonies and memories is an essential exercise of the collective memory. The association’s archives that will go on to occupy the Casa della Memoria constitute a heritage of indisputable value to the entire city of Milan, a heritage that unites the vestiges of so many individual histories with those of local history, and more generally, with that of a complex national history.
Just like a vault of memories, the spaces reserved for the archive have been positioned in the basement volume. Doing so, we have employed the whole surface of the lot, and we are able to have an area dedicated to the conservation of materials in closed shelves equal to 540 sqm. The interpolated height of 2.40 meters has limited the costs of excavating and diaphragm, on the basis of the documents requested in the brief, it does not interfere with the underlying structures of the Metro line. The archive area is divided into three areas: The area reserved for the gathering and archiving of the collections, an area reserved for storage located on the Northern side, an area reserved for the distribution of material requested by researches and, more generally, by those who use the archive.
Architects: SPEDstudio Location: Milan, Italy Project Team: Andrea Caputo, Carolina Fois Collaborators: Andrea Guazzieri, Clara Lopez, Paride Piccinini Structures: ing. / Antonio Pantuso MEP: Studio Red / Ruzziconi D’ancona Associati Project Area: 1,348.95 sqm Photographs: SPEDstudio