A half century has passed since the last intervention by the architects Portaluppi and Reggiori in the former Monastery of the Olivetani, a sixteenth-century structure in Milan’s historic center. The Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Lombard capital, is housed in this building. It also is the site of a new architectural project by the Milanese firm AR.CH.IT Luca Cipelletti consisting of a light metal staircase, a white iron origami that rises in an area of the museum illuminated by a pre-existing vertical window of ample dimensions.
The chief requirements of Cippelletti’s intervention, which involved a part of the area near the early Christian church of San Vittore al Corpo, were to make the structure comply with the fire code and the provision of a new public entrance for a wing of the Museum.
As a result of discussions with the Direzione Regionale dei Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici of Lombardy, instead of inserting a simple staircase and an elevator to fulfill the requirements of the code, a decision was made to highlight a respect for the historic profile of the building. This led to a solution with a vertical distribution of spaces valorizing existing historical elements.
Examination of the area where the elevator and staircase were to be put showed that that the space with the pre-existing vertical window was not large enough to fit the necessary elements. Moreover this space was not suitable for another reason: any intervention combining stair and elevator in a single, unified zone would relegate the historic window to the background. Bearing these concerns in mind, the proposed design divided the space into two separate zones, one for the stairwell and the other for the elevator. In this way a large volume was created that could readily accomodate a staircase naturally illuminated by the historic window, thereby allowing the latter to become the protagonist of the intervention.
The ramp near the window is inclined in a way that was determined by the existing apertures in order to have a more dynamic design, increasing the empty area (also the natural light) and taking as a reference the design of the historic building