DAY 1 of 2 / Chapter 2 of 7 – Italy
Milan 2,7 km
10:00 – Coltiviamo Insieme (Let’s Grow Plants Together) – 28, Via de Castillia
It’s handy to live in a city, but how many of you have said at least once in your lives, “How nice would it be to live in the countryside, in contact with nature and away from pollution?”.
Well, Milan is trying its best to satisfy this wish through a range of projects.
Between traffic congested streets, buildings and glass skyscrapers, we spot a 4,000 square metre vegetable garden. We’re taken aback. We go inside, hoping to find out what it’s all about.
It’s a project devised by the local council, called Coltiviamo Insieme (Let’s Grow Plants Together). As well as the vegetable garden they already have in place, they run workshops on vegetable cultivation and food education for schools, children and families.
Seeing such a big vegetable garden in the middle of the city makes us feel like we’ve gone back in time, to when everyone had their own little allotment, even those with only a small piece of land.
10:30 – Bosco Verticale (Vertical Woods) – Via de Castillia
Next door to the vegetable garden, we discover another pioneering project. This time, it’s for high level “urban forestry”, and it explores a new relationship between nature and the city: Bosco Verticale.
Bosco Verticale is composed of two residential towers, one of which is 111 metres tall, with 27 floors, and the other of which is 78 metres high, with 18 floors. Over 2km of balconies and terraces, they house 2 hectares (20,000 square metres) of woods and undergrowth. This is helping to produce an urban ecosystem with diverse vegetation thatis being colonised by birds and insects.
It’s fantastic! It’s so fantastic that the Bosco Verticale, devised by architect Stefano Boeri, was awarded “most attractive and innovative highrise in the world” at the International Highrise Awards 2014.
And their neighbours are as at least as green as they are: their building is entirely covered in ivy!
11:00 – Copper, iron and wood – 20, Via Pepe
Do you love reutilising materials, such as copper, iron and wood? In design capital Milan, the art of reutilising materials has become a lifestyle for some of its inhabitants.
We’re in the workshop of Costanza Algranti. It’s one of a kind. Here, materials taken from objects such as wooden pallets, barrels, drainpipes and metal sheets take on new shapes and new lives.
Costanza’s passion for reutilising materials has strong links to the sea.
“I used to collect pieces of wood from the beach that had been smoothed by the water and the wind, pieces of boats, pebbles, and oxidised bits of metal that had been transformed, together with their little stories, into new objects.
After a while, I discovered that in disused factories there were materials hidden away that oxidisation had gifted withbeautiful colours. I’m talking about copper and iron.
Now I have a few trusted scrap dealers who get me some wonderful materials.”
Costanza’s workshop charms us completely. Through skilled manual work and a lot of imagination, she has managed to transform copper, iron and wood into furniture, lamps, mirrors, armchairs, kitchens, and flooring.
She converts the old into new, maintaining, however, their previous roots and all of the appeal of an antique object.
We want to buy everything. “My projects don’t need colour. The key element is the natural oxidisation of the metal. I limit myself to helping the material to re-emerge from itself. I allow it to define its own colours and marks.”
Costanza’s artisan furniture is unique, unrepeatable, and primitive. It creates an unbreakable bond between antique and modern, and unites hot materials such as wood with the coldness of iron. In between, there’s copper, whichmagically blends hot and cold with its beautiful shades of colour and produces special effects that only the effect of time can create so authentically.
Costanza is extremely careful to execute only the lightest touch on the materials she uses, to respect their natural signs of wear.
Our favourite piece is a kitchen kiosk. Superb!
Costanza likes to take care of details, but only when they’re functional.
The kitchen we find ourselves in is the proof. For example, the metal sheets are nailed together – a lengthy job that requires precision, energy, and care.
What can we say? We’d like to have it in our house.