La Casa di Vetro (Glass House)

Office design for experimental social housing, natural light and flexibility are the protagonists of the domestic environment.

Adaptability, movement, flexibility, coexistence: depending on requirements, the tents can be moved and “stage” everyday life with various degrees of privacy.

THE IDEA FROM A WORKSHOP | The idea for this project was born in 2016 from the collaboration between Domus Academy in Milan, through the figure of Arch. Gianandrea Barreca, lecturer at the Master in Urban Vision and Architectural Design and partner with Giovanni La Varra of the architectural firm Barreca & La Varra in Milan, and MM Spa. The objective of the “Design of Spaces II” workshop involving international students was to reconfigure the layout of a social housing flat using elements usually employed in office design. The students’ projects were very positive and imaginative, and highlighted several improvements: the creation of more spacious spaces thanks to the reduced thickness of the glazed elements compared to traditional partitions, the possibility of looking into every room of the house and letting natural light filter in, and of expanding and reducing spaces, connecting and separating them according to needs and moods. This prompted the team to try to realise the design ideas collected in a council flat in Milan.

THE PROJECT | The layout of the flat, an 80 sq m three-room flat on the seventh floor of a building managed by MM Spa in Via delle Forze Armate 181 in Milan, has remained unchanged, but the project involved the almost total removal of the existing internal walls and their replacement with transparent glass walls, opacified by various types of shading elements.

THE RENOVATION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS: AN URGENT ISSUE | The issue of renovating existing housing stock, whether social housing or otherwise, is a very pressing one, and is still not sufficiently addressed today: most of it consists of inefficient, non-rational housing units, with small to medium-sized windows and spaces that are not balanced between living and sleeping areas, lacking in flexibility and generally no longer suited to contemporary needs. The search for light beyond the exposure of the house, the need to have large continuous spaces with open-plan solutions that can be parcelled out at the same time, and above all the need to have, in the continuity of use determined by greater permanence in the home, depth of vision, landscape changeability, changing colours, lights and shadows that can be controlled at will: these have become needs that can no longer be postponed.

NATURAL LIGHT IS THE PROTAGONIST | Adaptability, movement, flexibility, coexistence: the home becomes an almost theatrical setting for the life that takes place in it, and depending on the needs, the curtains, like wings and curtains, can be moved, opened or closed to “stage” everyday life with different degrees of privacy, and to make the places dialogue at will. Light thus becomes the true protagonist in every room of the house, a fundamental resource for the well-being of interior spaces, which is not always abundant in city accommodation.

SPONSOR | In addition to the companies LAS Mobili srl and BANDALUX Italia srl, already protagonists of the Domus Academy workshop and suppliers of the glass walls and shading elements, the architectural studio Barreca & La Varra of Milan collaborated in the realisation of the project, drawing up the architectural project and providing artistic direction, the company EDIL PIETRO srl for the building work, the company Erregi for the technological systems (electrical, plumbing and heating), the company Cromology Italia spa for the supply of MaxMeyer paints, the company MIRAGE GRANITO CERAMICO spa for the supply of the interior cladding, EGOARREDAMENTI for the supply of an Aster kitchen, HI LITE Next srl for the supply of the light fittings. BCUBE PROGETTAZIONE SRL of Milan was the consultant for the structural design, and CAREMI arredamenti & contract supplied the furnishings for the living and sleeping areas.

La Casa di Vetro (Glass House)