Architects Giovanni Pacciani and Claudio Bignazzi tell INTERNI how they transformed an initially flat and anonymous apartment into a welcoming and cult place for lovers of 70s style

In search of a period home, which had a lot to tell and which left ample space for experimental contamination, a couple of Milanese architects found themselves defining 'home 'a 240 m2 apartment with adjoining studio typically 1970s, located on the first floor of a period building.

A reversal of direction which, in the imagination of the designers Giovanni Pacciani and Claudio Bignazzi, partner in profession and in life, represented a flat and discouraging vision, but which, faced with the concrete possibility that emerged with the house in via Trebbia, in Milan, took a completely unexpected turn.

Despite the deprivation of the strong contrast between the period container and contemporary furnishings, so desired from the beginning, in fact, the current solution turned out to be a creative opportunity, in a varied mix of pre-existing elements. -existing ones ready to be revamped, such as the wooden window frames framing large windows along the entire perimeter of the apartment, and invitations to the free reinterpretation of the spaces.

Among the gems, kept hidden by the previous ownership and rediscovered by the architects, the reinforced concrete pillars which give a brutalist touch to the house (a current to which both are particularly attracted) and, in some way, maintain faith in the original desire to pay homage to contaminations.

A method also adopted for floors, all designed from scratch and conceived with the aim of conveying a sense of recovered pre-existences, in the apartment as in the studio.

Pacciani and Bignazzi are lovers of an imperfect aesthetic, a romantic approach to design, which identifies beauty in a place opposite to ratio.

We asked them to tell us how they brought the sixties soul of the apartment back to light.

Why would you have preferred a period house?

"We have always believed that homes lived in with a history behind them had greater charm and were more interesting, perhaps in a game of contrast between an environment strongly characterized by an era and 'out of place' furnishings.

We are somewhat of an architecture enthusiast who always prefers to insert a conceptual or formal 'error' rather than the mirage of perfection."

In what context is the apartment immersed?

"The apartment is located in a condominium completed in 1969 but perfectly positioned in terms of finishes and typology in the 1970s.

From the brown stoneware tiles on the main facade to the aluminum frames, from the entrance floor lowered compared to the street level with an atrium on concrete pillars covered in white with brown stoneware on the floor and runners and doormats in red.

A typical atrium of Milanese condominiums. At the beginning of the purchasing phase, it was precisely this aspect that scared us the most: not a period house or even contemporary architecture."

What 70s stylistic features did you use as a starting point for the project?

"We immediately thought of supporting the architecture of the place while respecting some aspects such as certain materials or the absolute valorisation of the large windows.

The reddish Daglas wooden window frames acted as a guide for the division of the spaces and also for the finishes (a Daglas parquet carpet accompanies all the floor strips under the windows to give prominence and continuity to the openings, enhancing them in the best possible way).

On a respectable layout we then adopted contemporary spatial schemes for a house that we intended to be suitable for receiving many people very easily, therefore dedicating an 80 m2 open space to the living area".

Why and how did you choose to insert a brutalist nod?

"Brutalist architecture is a passion of both for training and university studies.

The opportunity to bring to light the long row of reinforced concrete pillars which also connect the study area to the living room and kitchen area immediately thrilled us.

Putting a living 'material' into a 70s house brings with it a sudden hint of truth that somehow dialogues with the constructive sense of the property."

What is the role of the large ceramic wall in the living room?

"We immediately thought of an open kitchen area but screened by a screen that separated it from the view of the living room. In the search for materials, a artisan from the province of emerged strong>Modena who had created the tiles for Gio' Ponti's building in via Pergolesi in Milan.

Adepts of the latter's architecture, we immediately thought of using this material for the curtain wall contained by two black iron profiles with rough calamine.

Furthermore, this initial choice of the project also led us to a chromatic thread made with green which dialogues with the camel color and the rough gray plaster in Geocol with which the wall of windows was plastered . A sort of 'unfinished' which acts as a side to the pillars left in exposed concrete."

How did you think about the color palette?

"The color palette was born from the idea of ​​mixing warm and cold colours: camel for the partition walls, cement for the walls external and then move on to the master bedroom in a very dull lagoon green on which the blond mahogany headboard of the double bed is placed.

We are not lovers of colors in general and rarely of timbral ones used in their purity. We like to work on colours, dirty them, make them coexist as if they were matter".

Parquet, resin and marble: how did you identify the right material for each room? And how did you get them to talk?

"The idea of ​​the floors as well as other elements of the house (the only three doors present) was to create pieces of marble that interrupted the resin almost as if we had saved pre-existing structures by demolishing partitions In reality everything is done from scratch.

The marble, a Lombard quarry above Brescia, is in the classic 40x40 format typical of these condominiums and served us to design hypothetical distribution areas, in particular the living room where the open effect risked making the various lounge positions 'float' and lunch in an empty loft effect that we didn't want. The wood follows the concept of the windows we were talking about before."

No gaps: what is the added value of a home without doors?

"We built and designed a house for ourselves. A couple of adults in their fifties andthe doors seemed to be a limitto us. The whole house has three: a courtesy bathroom in the living area and two for the guest bedroom with attached bathroom.

Our velvet curtains protected and shielded us sufficiently while ensuring a fluidity of the space that was very pleasant to live in. It is a house custom-designed by two architects to be lived in with a stubborn fox terrier companion".

What was the first aesthetic and functional need that guided the entire project?

"There was a double contribution because, between us, we have two different approaches to architecture.

I (Arch. Pacciani) imagined a house that also had a representative value and therefore also functional to our role as architects with a studio adjacent to the house. Claudio (Arch. Bignazzi) perhaps in a more affectionate way also thought about building a shell to stay in, tailor-made for us.

We agreed on all the choices and never had any arguments throughout the entire project and work. Respecting the property in its particular characteristics was certainly one of the first considerations shared.

It is an approach that we use in all projects, that of trying to never force the hand of the pre-existence but from it to find inspiration and guidance for the project itself".