This prestigious commission, to remodel a significant part of the historic La Rinascente department store in the heart of Milan, called for a food retail and dining environment fitting for this handsome neoclassical building and its incomparable setting.
The hallmark of this top floor space is the vibrant amber sofit which provides a joyful enclosure to a popular Italian pastime – shopping and eating.
The design dramatically transforms the existing floor plan, twisting the central space into a parallelogram shape to accommodate new facilities and guide customers more coherently through the store. The food market concept is an ‘internal street’ offering a choice of retailers, product and product knowledge. As customers arrive by escalator, they are treated to a staggering view of the Gothic cathedral.
The architecture celebrates the fact that this is the building’s top floor through the ceiling, which takes inspiration from the subtle irregularities of honeycomb geometry.
Acrylic triangular ceiling panels, each with four visible facets, allow 70% of the light to filter through, giving a glowing effect. The ceiling’s dynamic 3-d effect is achieved by tilting down one facet per panel. The expanse of panels relates to the floor plan, also composed of a series of triangular elements, and this serves to unify the space, which is home to many concessions and competiting brands.
Lighting and acoustic treatments control the mood and style of service during different times of the day, offering a shift in atmosphere from day to evening.
The concept created a space where people can comfortably shop or settle down to a meal without a sense that they are going to a restaurant in a department store. The success of this approach was confirmed by the growing popularity of La Rinascente’s top floor, which is now one the most popular destinations of the fashion’s capital.
Client La Rinascente
Location Milan, Italy
Status Completed 2007
Architect Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands
Services Engineer BRE Engineering / CS Progetti
Main Contractor Impresa Minotti / Camagni Arredamenti
Photography Chris Gascoigne