Brisa 5 by Park Associati brings sustainability to retrofit architecture

Sited in the centre of Milan, Brisa 5 is a LEED certified structure with sustainable interventions elevating a composition seamlessly blending three styles of architecture.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jun 16, 2022

The issue of global climate change, and particularly the damage caused by the built environment on the natural one has been a matter of grave concern for years. While modern architecture beckons a new era in livability, the fact that the construction industry remains one of the biggest contributors to pollution and resource consumption in all forms isn’t lost on the necessarily intertwined design world - especially given that the outlook of the recently concluded Milan Design Week 2022 was geared toward sustainable innovation. Among measures and certifications that “quantify” this sustainable innovation in buildings, the LEED international certification awarded by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) remains among the most sought after and prestigious for buildings. Interestingly so, Milan, the design capital of the world, is known to be among the top five cities globally in this respect, with over 230 buildings that have received the LEED certification.

  • One of the two building block is devised in the modernist style of architecture | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    One of the two building block is devised in the modernist style of architecture Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • The second block is originally designed in the art nouveau style | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The second block is originally designed in the art nouveau style Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • View of the building from the neighbouring site, in close proximity to historical ruins, lending it additional context | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    View of the building from the neighbouring site, in close proximity to historical ruins, lending it additional context Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • The contemporary structure added above the second block creates a striking contrast | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The contemporary structure added above the second block creates a striking contrast Image: © Andrea Martiradonna

One such retrofitted project, initially conceived by Pietro Portaluppi in the early 1900s, has gained spotlight due to recent modifications made to the structure’s spatial planning as well as facade design. Brisa 5 on Via Brisa in Milan exhibits an architectural uniqueness through an understated, somewhat obvious, yet well-composed blend of different styles of architecture applied on the building through distinct temporal layers. Brisa 5 is composed of two adjacent blocks with curiously distinguished architectural elements. The first block is three-storeyed and takes from the art nouveau style of architecture, while the modernist style has inspired the five-storied second block.

  • A pomegranate tree has been planted in the centre of the internal courtyard | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    A pomegranate tree has been planted in the centre of the internal courtyard Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • View from the lower ground floor level of the courtyard | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    View from the lower ground floor level of the courtyard Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • The floor added above has been covered by a metal mesh with brass plating | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The floor added above has been covered by a metal mesh with brass plating Image: © Andrea Martiradonna

Furthermore, a recent addition above the first block has a decidedly contemporary character that, by sheer contrast, ends up emphasising the historical elements of the existing two blocks. It is covered by a metal mesh with brass plating on the outside, and black on the inside, creating an untold harmony with similar contemporary structures in Milan, while offering protection from the sun. This added storey doubles up as extra office space for the users. Measures such as incorporating an array of photovoltaic panels placed on the tower's roof, along with the added storey's green roof have aided the building in increasing its thermal mass, thus making the building energy independent and LEED-certified.

  • The building has been designed to ease the circulation pattern between different levels | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The building has been designed to ease the circulation pattern between different levels Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • The internal courtyard, lit up at night | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The internal courtyard, lit up at night Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • The external facade is activated by the ‘glimmer’ of the additional floor at night | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The external facade is activated by the ‘glimmer’ of the additional floor at night Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • Night view of the building from the street | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    Night view of the building from the street Image: © Andrea Martiradonna
  • The final composition of the building amalgamates three styles of architecture | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The final composition of the building amalgamates three styles of architecture Image: © Andrea Martiradonna

The refurbishment of the interiors and the refined interior design scheme is an amalgamation of the modularity of a contemporary space with the elegance, flexibility, and privacy required by such an office building. The entrance and reception areas of both blocks remain independent. Linear furnishings chosen for the entrance halls create an environment that is in harmony with the colours of walls and furniture. Transparency and light remain uncompromised in the offices located in the lower part of the building due to white furnishings, despite offering acoustic privacy. As a tribute to the Milanese designer Portaluppi, the counters are covered in polychromatic marble, which is known to be his favourite material.

  • Brisa 5: Floor Planss | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    Brisa 5: Floor Plans Image: Courtesy of Park Associati
  • Brisa 5: North Elevation | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    Brisa 5: North Elevation Image: Courtesy of Park Associati
  • Brisa 5: Longitudinal Section | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    Brisa 5: Longitudinal Section Image: Courtesy of Park Associati
  • Brisa 5: Cross Section | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    Brisa 5: Cross Section Image: Courtesy of Park Associati

As per the architects, "Each of the three contrasting elements that now make up the architectural complex establishes its own boundary that respects the project's history," a comment on the inconspicuous yet distinctive melding of architectural styles and even eras by extension. Previously used as a warehouse, the basement floor beneath the internal courtyard has also been uncovered, creating an appealing new space on the lower ground level overlooking the meeting rooms and showrooms. Further out, in contrast to the white of the courtyard, the tower's rationalist façade basks in the bright grey of the Ceppo di Grè stone, keeping the overall palette neutral - a necessary backdrop for the the added storey to stand out in colour and composition - akin to a gold bar.

  • Images of the site from the construction stages | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    Images of the site from the construction stages Image: © Mario Frusca | Park Associati
  • The original structure before refurbishment and retrofitting | Brisa 5 | Park Associati | STIRworld
    The original structure before refurbishment and retrofitting Image: © Mario Frusca | Park Associati

As part of Fuorisalone at the Milan Design Week 2022, Brisa 5 was featured among the ‘LEED Buildings in Milan’ walkthrough event, presented by Valcucine, as part of its larger theme: ’Sustainability beyond Space and Time’.

(Text by Navisha Sogani, intern at STIRworld)

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