Luxury apartments in the new CityLife Milano district

It has now been twelve years since the open-air facility Fiera Milano moved to Roh, located a bit northwest of Milan. In the old exhibition area twenty exhibition halls with a total volume of 2.5 million m³ were demolished in 2007-2008, and 120 trees were moved to different parks throughout Milan.
To fill the void that emerged in this central and attractive part of Milan, an international architecture competition was announced for the creation of a new modern and completely unprecedented city district. The winner was the CityLife Project by architects Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki.

CityLife consists of two new apartment complexes, a park, three skyscrapers and Italy’s largest shopping centre. All this in an area slightly larger than Stockholm’s Old Town.

In this newsletter, we will focus on the two new residential complexes created by Hadid and Libeskind. The image above shows a part of the old exhibition area and the two skyscrapers that have been finished. The CityLife project will be completed in 2018 when the last of the three skyscrapers will be ready for occupation.

Click on the pictures to see them in a larger format with all the details.


Hadid Residence

The seven buildings form an irregular billowing skyline with falling continuity – from the tallest structures with thirteen floors to the east down to five floors to the west.
Considerable attention has been paid to the relative location and height of the buildings. Most apartments face the southwest for maximum sunshine while having the best views of the Piazza Guilio Cesare park in the heart of CityLife from the balconies.

Gated luxury accommodations

The housing complex is part of a gated community split by a public footpath. Walking by you can catch a glimpse of the greenery in the inner courtyards inside the gates.

Currently all units are sold. Although opportunities for various forms of beneficial purchasing methods like rent to buy were offered, rumours say that the Italians thought it was too expensive and most owners in both residences are wealthy foreigners.
The secrecy regarding pricing and resident identity is substantial. It does not take long before a determined but friendly guard asks you to aim your camera in another direction. The pictures in this newsletter are therefore taken in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects in London who work with the press for the area.


Consistent design everywhere

In addition to the impressive goals of CityLife, it is obvious how consistently the design has been carried out. Everything from facades, balconies, rails and ventilators to the planning of the courtyard coincides with the cohesive rolling, soft forms.

The facade and frame are made of concrete, which is specially assembled and reinforced with woven fabrics of evenly distributed fibres. The material is very strong and highly resistant to impact, shock, moisture and wear and tear.
It makes it very suitable for creating irregular shapes, as well as when choosing colours.  

Underground internal road network with garage

CityLife is one of the largest car-free areas for a city in Europe. Underground there is a subterranean road network that allows residents to drive to their own door and take the elevator up to their apartment. The underground garage is a total of 50,000 sqm. with space for more than 7,000 vehicles.

Reception is at your service

Above to the left you can see one of the entrances to the area. To the right is the entrance to the staffed reception desk located in each building. It serves as a concierge with the task of coordinating the security of the building as well as all the services that are included for the residents. One of them is the mailboxes (down to the right) that are gathered in the reception area. Modern, but perhaps a bit primitive.


Libeskind Residence

The buildings in Daniel Libeskind’s part of area are also placed in a gated community and follow the same concept. But here the apartments are all unique, both in size and shape
– from one bedroom to two-storey penthouse units.
The design is totally opposite as these buildings have an angular structure resembling a spinal column. The buildings are at an even height and enclose a common courtyard, which gives the Libeskind Residence a more compact feeling.
Nevertheless, the apartments have been planned based on the maximum sun exposure. But for those apartments that have balconies in several directions that’s not very difficult.

You’ll never be closer to hitting a few golf balls

Between Hadid and Libeskind’s very different residential areas lies a large park, which is the focal point of CityLife. Here there’s a driving range with a golf school available to the public. Perhaps a good combination during the visit to the next Milan furniture fair?


Strict stone surfaces

With the Libeskind project, stone in different shapes and forms is predominant. The facade is covered with polished granite, while details such as balconies, planters etc. are made of sandstone with a brushed structure. The surface differences are only visible when standing close to the buildings.

Note the different distances between the wooden ribs that cover most balconies. They are placed slightly closer at the top to provide more protection against the high standing sun.


Light spreads safety around the clock

The courtyard is not accessible for outsiders and is quite difficult to see from the outside. It consists of several footbridges over a lush park, with several open spaces like big arbours.

Almost everything has been especially created for the project. One example is the Zohar lighting pole, which later became a standard product for the manufacturer Zumtobel. A sensor inside the fixture increases the brightness as soon as a person approaches. The basic light is adjusted to the surrounding light so you always experience the park as safe, regardless of the season or time of day.


Inspired by The Spirit House Chair

We can recognize the large stripped rooms in the reception area. But apart from Hadid, with Libeskind they are stricter, more rigid and angular in form. Instead of fibre concrete and wood, the surfaces consist of polished stone of different variations.

The angled armchair in polished stainless steel is called The Spirit House Chair and weighs 180 kg. It was created by Libeskind and designer Klaus Nienkämper for the spectacular addition of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. The building is called the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal and was completed in 2007.  Compare the lines of the armchair and the building here.

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid was born in Baghdad, Iraq and is regarded as one of the most outstanding contemporary architects. Over the years she got the nickname Queen of the curve. Although CityLife is one of her less spectacular projects.

In 2016, Zaha Hadid unfortunately died from a sudden heart attack. She remained unmarried throughout her life and had no children, something she explained with the words: “If architecture does not completely take over, you’re worthless. You must spend full time on it. You cannot afford to jump in and out.”
See more of Zaha Hadid’s projects here.
Daniel Libeskind

The American architect, artist and scenographer was born in Lódz, Poland. If Zaha Hadid ‘s style was soft then Daniel Libeskind design is characterized by sharp, angular shapes. He is famous for several museum buildings but his portfolio also contains housing projects.
Daniel Libeskind’s work has been exhibited at several major museums and galleries around the world. In February 2003, his overview plan won the competition for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, New York.

See more of Daniel Libeskind’s projects here.

Simpler rules for photographing with drones

With the help of a drone, you can access new angles and show an overview that was previously unavailable. Since August 1, new and more reasonable, rules apply in Sweden for flying, taking photographs and filming with drones. There are still restrictions on where to fly and as well approval for the dissemination of drone photographs.

Feel free to let me know if there is something you want to show from above, or if you want to know more about what you can and cannot photograph.
Lasse Olsson Photo photographs interiors, architecture and lighting. My newsletter is published 6-8 times a year. It presents photographed projects and reports from furniture fairs in Milan and Stockholm.