Torre Velasca is without a doubt one of Milan's greatest architectural icons. But the BBPR-designed building and its distinctive top-heavy silhouette have always been a visual jewel to admire from afar. 'It's kind of an abandoned area and no one really visits,' remarks Carola Bestetti, creative director at Living Divani.
Or at least that was the case. The no man's land status of the Torre is set to change thanks to Living Divani and its most recent collaboration with Milan-based architect Piero Lissoni who has designed a temporary 900 sq m terrace around the building's perimeter. Inaugurated last week and open through to the end of the year, the space is welcome to the public and serviced by an adjoining independent bar and an exhibit space, creating a rare gift to a city that desperately lacks scenic outdoor space.
Lissoni's design is part café lounge, part urban zen forest. A wooden deck floor is surrounded by a lush curtain of bamboo, Carpini and Mulberry trees sitting in wooden wine barrels - a long-time Lissoni signature - while red metal scaffolding, set up in anticipation of the restoration works due to begin, act as a sort of plantless pergola. For the furniture, Lissoni custom-designed huge tables and benches in plywood, and populated the rest of the space with a variety of Living Divani's outdoor furniture, most of which the architect designed himself, including a Divano Extra Soft couch (2011), Ile stools (2003), low Family Lounge tables and his famous Frog Chair which, incidentally, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
'We thought this would be a nice way to show our outdoor furniture,' explains Bestetti, who also set up an adjoining, temporary showroom for Living Divani on the ground floor of the Torre. 'At the same time it's a nice thing to gift to Milan.'
Lissoni's work didn't stop there. The architect also built a wooden ramp that exhibits 13 different versions of his famed Frog chair in an outdoor glass box. Most dramatically, he put his architectural imprint on the top floor of Torre Velasca itself where he designed the interiors of a cushy penthouse apartment that has a wraparound terrace and some of the best views of the entire city. The apartment's furniture is Living Divani; the kitchen is Boffi and lighting by Flos. Whoever lands this stunning apartment is going to pay a pretty penny. For the rest of us, thankfully, there's always the beautifully designed ground floor outdoor space to enjoy for free.