Emerging Architecture Awards

Highly commended December 2004

Marco Castelletti Architetto

Urban renewal

Cesano Maderno, Italy
Cesano Maderno is a small city some 25km north-west of Milan, where the country starts to rise from the plain of Lombardy towards the Alps. Its centre is still a magical network of picturesque events and spaces, and now they have been added to by Marco Castellettis urban intervention made possible by demolition of ill-advised twentieth-century intrusions.
West of the main square is the baroque Palazzo Arese, the courtyard of which has been revealed through its railings by the demolitions. To the south is the park of the palazzo, verdant and well grown with fine trees; it is open to the citizens as their main green urban space.
Castellettis main move was to insert a fountain (what he calls a waterblade) east of the northern wing of the palazzo. Its sheet of water falls smoothly into a shallow canal that continues the lines of the building, and reflects both it and the rich vegetation of the park. Along the north side of the pool runs a pedestrian street that is the continuation of an existing medieval alley. To the south are gates in the railings of the parks northern edge.
Marco Castellettis design pulls together the main given spatial elements: palazzo court, alley and park in a quiet, unobtrusive yet strong way, and at the same time creates an urban space that is a contribution to the rich matrix in its own right. The place derives much of its presence from the details themselves. For instance, the bottom of the flowing pool is in dark beola (a kind of blackish gneiss). It is striped with strips of pale granite that are projected over the lawn and help to turn the corner between park and pedestrian street. At night, the strips are illuminated to reinforce their geometrical function. Lighting is a key element of the composition, which changes in expression from day to night. The pedestrian street is emphasized by a new lighting system (designed by the architect) that carries its line past the palazzo east towards the termination of the new composition on the via Milano. Where the buildings step northwards beyond the line, a small timber clad seasonal refreshments kiosk has been inserted. It is shaded by a pergola, and a pale limestone wall.
All materials have been selected with great care, and detailing is immaculate. The jury was impressed with the simpllicity, competence and understatement of this quiet addition to a treasured cityscape.

Studio di architettura Marco Castelletti architetto
Project team
Marco Castelletti, Sergio Fumagalli, Lorena Cavalletti
Filippo Simonetti