Project Description

The Cascina Deserta at Peschiera Borromeo is located on agricultural land protected by the South Milan Agricultural Park between the rear of the Idroscalo (an artificial lake constructed as a seaplane airport) and the town. The broad expanse of space and the richness of the environmental system endow the area with great potential. The Cascina Deserta has the typical forms and structure of the Lombard agricultural context, opening out around a central courtyard and designed in full accordance with the geometry and layout of the agricultural system. Work carried out over the years with no authorization and certainly no respect for the complex and the natural environment under the pressure of the earlier building frenzy has altered its character and added new sections. Fortunately, the presence of the Agricultural Park has protected the surrounding areas from major transformation, even though some servicesector operations to the north of the farmhouse have reoriented the territorial system towards the Rivoltana highway and the Linate area.
Midway between the agricultural system of the southern part of the plain and the tertiary development of the Rivoltana, crushed towards the south of the territory precisely by the increased weight of the highway and its ongoing expansion within the broader framework of the strengthening of Milanese infrastructures, the farmhouse is given a new role by a plan for redevelopment of its structures for settlement purposes. Careful historical reconstruction has made it possible to give new architectural dignity and form to many buildings maimed over the years by unauthorized operations that have altered their nature and volumetric composition, in addition to reconstructing the image and composition of other historical buildings in a state of collapse or abandonment.

The old ice house, built like a chamber with an apse in the northern part, and the main building, attributed to Piermarini, give dignity to the whole and give some idea of the importance it once had. The project rids the farmhouse of the unauthorized additions and buildings, bringing the complex back to its truest historical nature and scale with the utmost respect. The courtyard structure still visible between the ice house to the north, the long building to the west, the central storage facility, the main house on the corner and the unauthorized buildings to the south is consolidated and repeated to the south so as to have two adjacent but separate courtyards connected by the central section of the buildings. The highest degree of environmental quality is pursued. The courtyards and surrounding area are treated as green areas of public or private use in full continuity with the agricultural system.
The stream and spring regain their full environmental dignity. The parking area and roadway are placed underground out of sight. The architecture reinterprets the typological characteristics of Milanese agricultural buildings. Brick walls, arches and porticos, shallow pitched roofs, openings and open parts make up simple, unadorned volumes capable of expressing the settlement character already inherent in the Lombard farmhouse, where working and living areas are accommodated together in a sequence of open and constructed spaces with relations concentrated in the open central section. The project minimizes the degree of urbanization so as to preserve the agricultural character of the farmhouse in the midst of greenery and avoid the risk of betraying its very nature under increasingly strong pressure from the north and the Rivoltana system.

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