MM Famagosta Depot, Milan

1989 - 2001
2000 - 2001

Società Metropolitana Milanese

manufacturing technology

Windows: anodised aluminium

Load-bearing structure: beams and piers in prefab reinforced concrete

Façade: prefab fair-face brick panels laid in different patterns

Roof: flat, unusable, with sawtooth skylights and a layer of prefab reinforced concrete

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The building is a depot with a repair workshop for the trains of the Milanese Subway; it is located in an extremely broken down suburban context where Arrigo Arrighetti had already worked on the construction of two lots in the Sant'Ambrogio I and II neighbourhoods (built between 1964 and 1971). Like Arrighetti, Vico Magistretti also tried to 'tidy up' the nearby landscape by positioning a large-scale architectural landmark with a horizontal base over 240 metres long and a little higher than 7.5 metres. The horizontal volume with its prefab reinforced concrete frame was a train warehouse lit by the obsessive repetition of big sawtooth skylights that look like a small army of glass 'soldiers', armed against the sky. The skylights providing light to the interior are an independent design idea determining not only the "expressive importance" of the complex - Magistretti was to emphasise this in his design report - but also the means with which to dialogue with the context: on the one hand, the Sant'Ambrogio neighbourhood (towards which they face) and, on the other, the local infrastructure network, in particular the Milan-Genoa motorway. The depot actually acts as a new gate into the city; the project also contains references to the pre-existing environments, an approach theorised by his friend and teacher Ernesto Nathan Rogers; this led Magistretti to reflect on the need to protect an old farmhouse in the area and use traditional agricultural materials as a finishing element on the infill panels of the depot. In his design report Magistretti wrote: "It seems to me that bricks were a common finishing element throughout this area". In fact he arranged the bricks in elegantly varied patterns reminiscent of the much-loved graphic compositions of Dutch painters and architects.

The original, late eighties project had a long and very troubled history; it was partially downsized compared to the initial provisions, in particular the secondary volume to be used as a canteen and offices and ultimately eliminated.


F. Raggi, Designing as Robinson Crusoe, in Flare, maggio 1993

V. Magistretti, Relazione di progetto, Deposito MM Famagosta, Milano, 1989-2001

Progetti a Milano, in Domus 712, 1990, s.p.

F. Irace, V. Pasca, Vico Magistretti, architetto e designer, Milano 1999, p. 101

M. Biraghi, G. Lo Ricco, S. Micheli (a cura di), Guida all'architettura di Milano 1954-2014, Milano 2013, p. 155

project profile by Maria Manuela Leoni
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