The Milanofiori Housing Complex in Milan is a modern apartment development that utilizes an innovative double garden system to buffer the apartments against the elements. Designed by Open Building Research (OBR), the project forms a C-shape as it wraps around a public park and it is designed to optimize solar passive design. Each apartment features an indoor-outdoor garden set behind double-glazed glass so that residents can enjoy a bit of nature whether it's summer or winter.
The 107-apartment complex is part of a much greater master plan for the Milanofiori area designed by Erick van Egeraat. OBR was in charge of designing the complex, which has both a public and a private facade. The exterior of the curved building is more urban and it creates a sense of belonging with white wooden screens. These shade screens can be moved along the balcony so each resident can control the amount and quality of light reaching into their home.
On the interior, more private side of the building, the apartments are terraced and feature double-glazed facades. Apartments have two gardens on their deck – one that is wholly outdoors and another more intimate garden in a glassed-in area. In the summer, the inner garden can be opened up to the outdoors, but in the winter, it is closed off to serve as a greenhouse and environmental buffer for the interior. The glass on the greenhouse and the glass on the balcony reflect light at different angles, creating a kaleidoscopic effect. Milanofiori is characterized by daylighting and it takes advantage of natural cross breezes other efficient measures for thermal regulation.