The Caccia Dominioni family has been in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio since the fifteenth century. Just after the end of the Second World War, Luigi Caccia Dominioni designs a new building to replace the old one that had dated back to the late 1920s, built by the architect Alberico Barbiano di Belgiojoso. During the Allied bombing of Milan in 1943, the building was severely damaged and, following the war, Caccia dedicated himself to its reconstruction. This project has gone on to become a milestone in post-war Milanese architecture and similar experimentation can also be seen in Tognella House (1947-1948) that Ignazio Gardella designed in the same period near Sempione Park. The smaller façade on the corner, completely stone clad, occupies the entire depth of the building. It carries five orders of uniform pairs of fullheight apertures with the shutters fitting into the thickness of the slab.


The stone cladding turns the corner and continues along the main façade facing Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, defining a solid, horizontal base that is interrupted in the middle by the entrance, which is characterised by a slightly arched portal spanning it entire width. The level immediately on top of the base consists of a loggia carved into the mass of the structure and punctuated by a regular rhythm of circular columns. The same loggia is repeated on the entire top floor of the same façade, which is capped off with a flat, overhanging eave that accentuates the effect of shadow evoked by that level’s dark colouring. Between the two loggias, the second and third residential floors are finished in plaster and punctuated by a sequence of rectangular French doors located at the centre of each span. These two levels appear to be “suspended” between the two rows of loggias. The stone cladding of the base section further emphasises the chromatic contrast with the hazel-coloured plaster used for the middle section.


With this theme of bold horizontal shadows interspersed with “solids” that appear as “fragments”, Luigi Caccia Dominioni has certainly helped bolster the architectural quality of Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, enhancing its monumental nature. After passing the entrance hall in the centre of the front façade, one arrives at the rectangular building’s two stairwells through the elegant design solution in both the treatment of the paving and masonry surfaces and in the design of windows and doors. The internal façade is very simple and finished in plaster. All of the residential floors have continuous terraces with Lombard-style metal parapet. With this building, Caccia inaugurated the circular staircase spiralling around a central lift, a solution that reappears in many of his projects, including non-residential buildings, whereas the plans for apartment buildings were resolved according to traditional layout.


Alberto Gavazzi

Residential buildings

Milano, Duomo