27 November 2019

Milan’s design culture: life stories as told by the Achille Castiglioni Foundation
Achille Castiglioni: the city

“as a seasoned Milanese I know that this city, notwithstanding all its contradictions, is a place in which one can work happily in an international spirit.
This is it: I’d like all the transformations that are taking place now to make Milan into a city in which all those who live here and the many people who come here from other places will be able to continue to work in an international spirit for a good deal longer.”

Achille Castiglioni, 1987

Church of San Gabriele Arcangelo in Mater Dei, 1956 - Designed by Achille and Piergiacomo Castiglioni

“Our project was inspired by a respect for the “sacred essence of the parish” when it came to the liturgical functionality of the various parts of the church, so that from the high altar to the baptistery, the shape, proportions and structures are all influenced by the liturgy, which have conferred a modestly composed yet, we believe, genuinely mystical appearance on the new building.”

Piergiacomo Castiglioni

Urban setting
The 3,200 m2 available area is more or less rectangular, with one 47 m side opening onto Via Termopili […] Access to the area is from Via dei Transiti, through a 14.50 m portico carved out beneath a pre-existing residential building. This access is particularly important, because it connects directly with the major thoroughfare of Viale Monza.
The longitudinal axis of the church runs perpendicular to Via Termopili, on which the main entrance is situated.
A side entrance has been carved out of the left flank of the church, opening onto a large parvis given over to a garden, accessible from Via dei Transiti and Via Termopili.

The church has a single nave with a side chapel protruding towards the garden.
The baptistery is incorporated alongside the main entrance.
The basement contains the rooms of the male oratory, a large conference room, stores, the heating plant and cellars. The conference room is accessed by three staircases, leading directly to the open space.
The mezzanine floor contains the caretaker’s lodge and accommodation and rooms for charitable activities.
The first floor contains the presbytery and the men’s meeting rooms.
The second floor contains the women’s oratory, with the coadjutor’s accommodation on the third.
The first second and third floors are served by a staircase and a lift; another lift connects the parish priest’s habitation and the men’s meeting rooms with the floor on which the church is situated and the basement rooms.

Building characteristics
Structures in reinforced concrete, with reinforced brick slabs.
There are 14 pilasters supporting the roof beams above the main body of the church, coinciding with the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross.
External coverings in terracotta.
There is a flat roof over the portico and sacristy, double pitched roofs over the apse and the chapel; the volume overlooking Via Termopili has a double pitched roof, which covers the entrance stairway, the skylights in the men’s meeting rooms and a lightweight, wrought-iron cella for handbell change ringing.
Floors and external steps in beola granite slabs and wrought-iron gates.

Elevation onto Via delle Termopili.
The volume facing onto this street is inserted among the other buildings that make up a continuous frontage along the street.
The eaves are aligned with those of the adjacent buildings and continue over the portico containing the entrances to the church.
All the external surfaces, excluding the open roof structures, are faced with terracotta; the windows and doors are made of iron (flush with the walls) in the halls and utility areas, and of wood (set back and with shutters) in the domestic premises.
[…] There is a small beola granite-framed slit window in the outer wall of the baptistery, from which the interior of the church can be viewed.
The floors and external steps are made of beola granite slabs and the gates of wrought-iron.
A raised floor under the portico constitutes the parvis giving access to the church, the parish halls, the internal courtyard/parvis, the sacristy and the meeting/conference room below.
The window of the parish priest’s office opens onto the parvis on the first floor of the presbytery, and there is a small window to the caretaker’s lodge on the mezzanine floor.

Elevation onto the courtyard/parvis
The walls will all be terracotta-faced, aside from the apse, which will only be partly so, with strips covering the plastered surfaces.
The windows illuminating the high and side altars are iron-framed and are protected by the roof, which protrudes markedly over the windows themselves.
The internal courtyard/parvis will be made into a garden and connect the side entrance of the church with the access to the major thoroughfare of Viale Monza, and the steps of the covered parvis with Via delle Termopili.

#Achille Castiglioni, #Piergiacomo Castiglioni, #San Gabriele Arcangelo in Mater Dei church, #Milano, #city, #architecture