The work in question is an interesting example of industrial archaeological recovery in the centre of Milan, in Via Tortona, which is famous for the numerous ateliers and showrooms of the international design, architecture and fashion world.
The client, a famous Italian textile designer, needed to prepare a large showroom for receiving clients and working in, using it as the sales headquarters for the national and foreign markets.
The project guidelines were based on the need to create large areas and rooms for reception and parades, next to the more reserved and smaller work areas.
Therefore inside this single room measuring 9 meters high and 280 m2, the architects decided to create single height areas for the showroom, while the offices, collection rooms, meeting rooms, dinette, reception and service areas were all spread over two storeys.
The extensive use of steel for the structural parts (18 meter long beams for the new floors, columns, roof, supporting beams), for the window and doorframes, stairs, catwalks and the internal finishes, demonstrates expert use and knowledge of this iron and carbon alloy.
This intervention goes against modern trends of just using steel to follow fleeting variable fashion modes, without realising the performance it offers, without knowing how it can be processed, or by using too narrow tubular steel. This sort of improper use of steel is completely useless and dangerous.
The validity of steel is clearly visible in the window and doorframes in the offices and showroom, from the standard sized door to the large 4 meter high winged door: here stainless steel tubular profiles measuring at least 2 mm have been used to guarantee maximum safety, functions and long life.
The large wing door separates the collection room – almost 50 m2 – without any interruption even in the floor: the door closes on one side of the room sliding in the single track fixed to the ceiling, without any floor runners, which would create a barrier for the disabled. This sort of construction was possible only with stainless steel with its excellent performance features.
Steel therefore that is both attractive and functional, thanks to which the thickness of the other elements, such as the raised catwalks, have been reduced to create the lightweight effect that was required despite the considerable distances that were covered.
The stairway was made entirely in the factory and then dismantled and carried to the site where it was assembled and welded. It is formed of a central bearing steel tube with steps attached to it and only three supports at different levels.
The final effect is of a single track that unwinds between oblique and horizontal stretches in the showroom.
By/di Marzia Urettini (from “Acciaio Arte Architettura” n.26)
Acciaio Arte Architettura 26