Aerial View NOBILE Floor Plan - Residenze Calo Erba in Milan / Eisenman Architects + Degli Esposti Architetti + AZstudio
© Marco de Bigontina ESPERIENZA-DRONE

Completed in 2019, the housing project for Piazza Erba in Milano designed by Eisenman Architects, Degli Esposti Architetti, and AZstudio is a complex superposition of different constraints in a triangular site with a tripartite Milanese housing typology.

Residenze Carlo Erba Technical Information

The housing project for Piazza Erba in Milano, demonstrates a new typology. It proposes the intersection of two genealogies – abstraction and phenomena – that, it will be argued, have always constituted the underlying structure of a critical dialogue. Abstraction here refers to any aspect of architecture which is embedded in a syntactic structure, while phenomena is grounded in the material presence of the architectural object.

– Eisenman Architects2

Residenze Carlo Erba Photographs

Corner of the residence
© Maurizio Montagna
NOBILE Exterior View
© Maurizio Montagna
Corner integration with existing building
© Maurizio Montagna
Patio at entrance
© Maurizio Montagna

Text by the Architects

For a triangular site included in the Piano Pavia-Masera (1909-1911), bounded by buildings built from the beginning of the 20th century to the Seventies, this project seeks to create a distinctly contemporary apartment building while discussing both architectural ideas and the context, presenting itself as a current milestone in a genealogy of the Milanese house. First of all, this building solves the street relationship issue, without a construction along the boundaries of the block, like three exceptional precedents: the Ca’ Brütta, the Casa Rustici, and the Corso Italia Complex.

The building’s S-form was determined through a series of studies seen in diagrams that show how it meets both program and zoning requirements and incorporates an early 20th-century classicist building on the site. This building becomes part of the residential complex, as well as its formal entrance. The public garden Ramelli to the west now ends in the curve of the new building’s west elevation. In addition, the open form of the building is based on the determination that any continuity of the construction along the boundaries of the block would have established an excessively small and dark courtyard and views overlooking that space that would not have been effectively resolved.

Restricted by the height limit of the local regulations, the building is constituted of a series of horizontal bands stacked with slight offsets that create four different layers in the nine-story body. The first three floors constitute a base layer similar to ordinary urban palazzi with travertine cladding and punched window openings of similar size, with inset balconies. The fourth floor, or second layer, is a piano nobile that is set back from both the façade of the travertine base and the marble façade above, and its glazing contrasts with the stone surfaces.

Restricted by the height limit of the local regulations, the building is constituted of a series of horizontal bands stacked with slight offsets that create four different layers in the nine-story body.

The third layer, floors five and six, is articulated by enameled metal frames that create a horizontal band of golden rectangles running the length of the façade. The fourth and topmost layer, floors seven through nine, is not only a horizontal layer but, in its stepped profile and volumetric mass, is also a series of “urban villas” with large planting terraces.

In addition to the above-mentioned considerations regarding the relationship with the urban fabric and the stratification of the four layers of construction, the composition is the result of two further operations. The frames that characterize the fifth and sixth floors and a giant order that embraces floors five to nine are set forward of the building’s actual west façade. In doing so, they provide space for balconies. On the east façade, the same shift excavates the mass of the building in a carved lattice. The second operation is that the whole ensemble of floors five to nine is slightly shifted off-center, producing a dynamic effect and having each transversal section of the building unique and different from the other.

The building’s structure is mixed, in reinforced concrete for the load-bearing elements and metal for the frames from the fifth to the ninth floors. The foundation plate and underground waterproof retaining walls form a basin of reinforced concrete without solutions of continuity. The building’s load-bearing structure (pillars, stairs-elevator bodies) is a reinforced concrete frame with solid floors, reducing their thickness. The metal frames’ structure on the fifth to ninth floors is in galvanized steel that is painted white, with a 500mm side square section. The heating and cooling system has radiant panels powered by heat pumps. There is a controlled mechanical ventilation and primary air intake system with an integrated dehumidification system.

The façades are clad in travertine slabs (from the ground up to and including the third floor), in white metal sheets (fourth floor (piano nobile) and kitchens on the fifth and sixth floors), and in Carrara marble slabs (from the fifth to the ninth floors). The travertine slabs of the façades of the listed building overlooking Piazza Carlo Erba have been polished and restored. The windows of the property units are in natural wood frames painted white, with the exception of the window frames of the façades of the listed building, which are painted dark gray. The windows of the common areas are in white aluminum metal frames.

The original metal door for the main lobby entrance on Piazza Carlo Erba has been retained and restored. The common areas are covered with custom wood paneling and have suspended ceilings. The parquet floors of the units are in natural oak, with the exception of the tiled and grès-clad bathrooms. The building’s lighting is characterized by a particular study of how to enhance both the pre-existing façades of the listed building overlooking Piazza Carlo Erba. The new body whose curvature is accompanied by LED lighting in the continuous terraces’ external suspended ceiling on the fourth floor.

Residenze Carlo Erba Plans

Site Plan - Residenze Calo Erba in Milan / Eisenman Architects + Degli Esposti Architetti + AZstudio
Site Plan | Courtesy of the Architects
BASE Floor Plan - Residenze Calo Erba in Milan / Eisenman Architects + Degli Esposti Architetti + AZstudio
BASE Floor Plan | Courtesy of the Architects
NOBILE Floor Plan - Residenze Calo Erba in Milan / Eisenman Architects + Degli Esposti Architetti + AZstudio
NOBILE Floor Plan | Courtesy of the Architects

About Eisenman Architects2

Eisenman Architects’ unique approach to design projects is to consider the layers of physical and cultural archaeologies at each site, not just the obvious contexts and programs of a building. Rather than pursuing a particular building type, Eisenman Architects specializes in a particular problem type: projects with difficult siting, programmatic and/or budgetary constraints, and of strategic importance to their environment. The firm has produced a wide range of award-winning projects around the world, including housing, urban planning, and innovative education, cultural and commercial facilities.
Works from Eisenman Architects

About Degli Esposti Architetti3

Degli Esposti Architetti is a leading partnership practicing architecture, urbanism, and infrastructure design, founded in 2006 by Lorenzo Degli Esposti and Paolo Lazza, based in Milan. Degli Esposti Architetti’s refined approach to design is the outcome of continuous research and practice, from early works in collaboration with the XX Century architecture’s primary figures to the current projects. Degli Esposti Architetti’s project is on the palazzo in urban and metropolitan contexts (for dwellings, offices, mixed-use), thanks to both a broad practical experience (several built works and commissions) and fundamental studies on historical precedents and contemporary examples, in Milan and other world cities.
Works from Degli Esposti Architetti

  1.  Structural Engineers: Studio d’Ingegneria Associato Ardolino, Bolzano;
  2. Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: Sistema Group Engineering, Montichiari (BS) (preliminary phase); A.T. Advanced Technologies, Rome (execution phase); Studio MGM, Gallarate (execution phase)
  3. General contractor: Italiana Costruzioni (Rome): phase 2 and completion, CLE Cooperativa Lavoratori Edili (Bolzano): phase 1
  4. Supervision of construction: Arch. Lorenzo Degli Esposti, Arch. Paolo Lazza, Arch. Stefano De Vita
  5. Project surveillance: Geom. Giorgio Marocchi – Sherpa Engineering, Mantova (Phase 1); Geom. Tristano Barroccu, Milan (Phase 2).
  6. Sources: and