Asti Architetti has designed the project for the building in Via della Spiga, home to Ralph Lauren's elegant flagship store
The sober and “gentle” elegance of the approach to the urban architectural fabric – a recurring feature of the design of Paolo Asti, the author of more than 70 projects in Milan’s old town – is combined with the unmistakable style of Ralph Lauren in the project for the new flagship store recently opened in Via della Spiga.
Ralph Lauren chose this property for its typical Milanese features. It rises vertically over five floors and overlooks the most exclusive street in the fashion district: a 1500 square metre building with a large internal garden. On the Via della Spiga side, the façade is characterised by the classic succession of full and empty spaces (windows and shop windows) treated according to the strictest reproduction of the typologies of the period, while inside, romantic terraces enriched with decorations and wrought iron railings were added.
Asti Architetti’s project involved the global redevelopment of the building in line with the new commercial vocation decided by the client.
“While respecting nature and preserving the original architecture, the project completely redefines the solids and voids of the the external elevations, redesigning the architectural composition of those facing onto the courtyard, and completely reconfiguring the internal spaces, creating high-impact underground spaces and transforming the garden into a large multifunctional green space”, Paolo Asti explains.
Via della Spiga, today the heart of Milan’s fashion quadrangle, formerly known as Contrada della Spiga, rises where the “Naviglio interno” (inner circular canal) once flowed. It was built around 1450 between Via Senato and Via della Spiga to serve commercial activities by water. The Naviglio remained active for almost half a century and was not covered until 1930. The 19th century saw the Contrada della Spiga as the place where small traders and craftsmen settled, as shown by the several shops, warehouses, workshops and inns.In the 1950s, galleries and art studios began to appear in the quadrangle, and they became genuine representative of the cultural fervour of the period. The street’s transformation into a fashion district began in the 1960s, continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s and reached its peak in 1990. It can be assumed that the house at No. 5 was built in the first decades of the 19th century.
Asti Architetti’s project follows in the footsteps of history: it re-proposes ground-level foundations with openings in lowered arches, consistent with the typology widely found in the old centre of Milan and in line with the adjacent buildings on Via della Spiga and on the internal façades.
To this end, it has planned to resize the attics on the lower floors in order to create spaces of sufficient height to ensure pleasant usability of the many common facilities on the ground floor. The rhythm of the upward openings has therefore been modified accordingly, through the introduction of so-called “half-windows at mezzanine level” which, in happy coexistence with the new full-height windows, provide a soaring effect to the ground-level foundations. A great deal of space has been given to the regularization of the roof planes – entirely transformed in terms of architectural design and internal and external coverings – as well as the top floor front (set back), in an attempt to recall the theme widely present in the buildings nearby, marked by large pitched roofs surrounded by terraces.
A charming garden has been created in the inner courtyard in place of the former carport and has been structured to provide various possibilities for collective use.
Alongside the iconic collections displayed on the various levels, there is also The Bar on the ground floor for light lunches and snacks, while the top two floors offer breathtaking views of the city.
- Ownership: Mantika srl, Milan
- Development: Impresa Grassi e Crespi, Milan
Completion of works: October 2021