During the middle of day 1 we visited the Milan Expo – more about that tomorrow.
Our day culminated in a late afternoon visit to the Via Cenni. This is a set of 4 towers of low rent social / public housing in Milan built largely from CLT apart from having concrete forming the underground car park and the foundations for the towers.
The appearance of these buildings is striking not because they look different or spectacular but because they are cared for, clean, no graffiti and with public areas including gardens and trees. The residents interested in our visit came out to look and chat with their neighbours. This is a community and talking with one of the residents we found a genuine passion for their wooden construction, the comfort including the thermal comfort of their apartments. This is a great advertisement for well designed living spaces using timber as one of the elements of the overall environment.
A detailed explanation of the construction was provided by Dr. Andrea Bernasconi the Professor for timber technology and construction at the University of applied sciences Western Switzerland. Thank you.
The four towers and buildings provide 124 affordable apartments. Built with the community in mind, there is a focus on green space and local facilities include services such as community laundries, green spaces, childcare, play grounds and a basketball court.
The structure is made out of cross laminated timber, reaching heights of 27 meters. All the walls, floor, lift shafts and staircases are made of CLT. With a floor span 6.7m, the panels comprised 7 ply- 230mm CLT, with self-tapping screws used to connect the walls to the floors. The CLT panels are 2.95m high by 16m long. For weather protection, a PVC film was used during the construction. The exterior façade has used non-combustible stucco cladding and gypsum board covers all exposed timber on the interior with the exception of some ceilings in public areas.
The Via Cenniis in the Milan earthquake region, so the 9 storey structure has been carefully designed to with stand earthquakes. This has been achieved by load transfer through the structure where it terminates with attachments to the ground concrete foundation. The project was 5-10% cheaper than alternative materials. No sprinklers were used in the project rather fire protection was provided through the addition of two layers of plasterboard. CLT was even used for the lift shafts, with a total of 6,100m3 of CLT, along with a bit of glulam and some steel beams.
It only took 6 months to construct the 4 towers, with 2 erection teams working on either side with a crew of between 6-10 workers. A total of 600,000 screws were used in the project.
Adjacent to the site is the original farmhouse of the area which is now being renovated/ rebuilt/ restored as one of the conditions of the construction of the apartments. A very impressive build and a great community feel.