Everyone is familiar with the National Museum of Science and Technology at Via San Vittore 21 in Milan. It is one of the most stimulating cultural facilities in the city, an historic place that since last April has been enhanced by an evocative new space, that of the Cavallerizze, the 19th-century stables of the Austrians, restored and converted as a location for exhibitions and events, first of all those of the XXI Triennale.

Thanks to the project done by the architect and museum designer Luca Cipelletti/Studio AR.CH.IT, in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Activities and Tourism, and the municipal government of Milan, which has granted the Museum rights to the entire area (2,300 square meters, of which 1,800 for exhibitions).

Cipelletti, 42 years old, speaks of this adventure that began in 2006 and was implemented in a period of just 90 days: “The idea was to proceed by subtraction and balance, inside an extremely complex system of existing feathers, layers, wounds, alterations.

Specifically, after the bombing in World War II the volumes of the Cavallerizze were in a state of severe decay. The task was to reconstruct the destroyed parts while bringing out the authenticity of the preserved ones, continuing the dialogue between renovation and contemporary intervention.

Radically focusing the project on the creation of a perspective tunnel that functions as the bridgehead of the historical volumes and the facade towards the plaza to the north – a linear path of about 80 meters, set on the axis crossing the gardens of the Olivetan monastery that represents the origin of the place – became the gesture of philological reassembly that functions on a circulation level for the use of the Cavallerizze, while becoming part of a vision of overall reorganization of the museum layout, with the prospect of moving the entrance to the Museum of Science, in the future, to Via Olona, towards the subway.

The new urban and architectural artery crossing the interiors has become a vibrant, almost brutalist wall clad with striped cement-base stucco, applied by hand, gauged to match the size of the salvaged red bricks, which remain the only original chromatic feature of spaces kept inside the gray scale: with beaten concrete floors, roofing in panels of anthracite-color Alucobond, structures and trusses in white metal.

Motivated by the desire to avoid historical fakery, we worked above all on the facades, etching them with vertical glass openings of 12 cm, which on sunny days create an extraordinary sundial parallel to the negative space on the cement surface of the floor, with blades of light that evoke the archetypal image of haylofts.”

The key of a dialogue between history and the contemporary, that finds its completion in the custom lighting design done by/with Alberto Pasetti, a lighting designer specializing in museum spaces, with a studio in Treviso.

Large basic, architectural parallelepipeds, with the same proportions as the vertical cuts in the facade, have been used for LED lights with cool and warm emission controlled in a flexible say, depending on the use of the rooms, adapting to evolving situations,” Cipelletti concludes.

Text by Antonella Boisi

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Interior view. Highlight the new vertical cuts glass of the front.The project by Luca Cipelletti attempts a philological reassembly of the existing spaces, filling out the missing parts with figures, materials and colors that correspond to their history. (Photo courtesy Henrik Blomqvist).
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The internal promenade, about 80 meters long, with the materic wall clad in striped cement-base plaster.
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Exterior view of the volumes of the Cavallerizze. (Photo courtesy Henrik Blomqvist).
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The salvaged red bricks become the sole original touch of color in spaces limited to the gray scale. The lighting design by Alberto Pasetti is integrated with the architecture.