Architect Mia Buzzi turns abandoned factory into dream home
Architect transforms old factory into a warm, cosy and spacious home, writes Joanne Lam
Mia Buzzi, architect and founder of Mia Buzzi Architetto, her husband, two cats and the many blackbirds chirping in her garden
Those interested in getting an inside look at the architect's world can opt to spend a night or more at the architect's bed and breakfast, also situated on her estate, with windows overlooking the plush greenery.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But for a lucky few – those with the acute eye to see a diamond in the rough – the possibilities to craft their own gems are endless. In architect Mia Buzzi’s case, the uncut gem was an abandoned factory located next to Porta Genova and the Navigli in the Italian city of Milan, which she transformed into her dream home.
When Buzzi first came across the deserted 1800s concrete factory, she saw past the cold, grey structure and found the warmth and life she could craft out of the space. “It was an unusual, empty space,” she recalls, but nevertheless one which captured her heart.
“It had been abandoned for 50 years,” she says. But, despite the run-down condition of the factory, she was drawn to the beautiful beams, trusses, skylights and cast iron tie-rods still perfectly intact and transformable into a rustic, charming home.
“It was the right spot for my long-time dream to come true,” she says. The dream she speaks of is a strikingly warm and cosy home – a place where the designer’s home, studio and a small bed and breakfast co-exist in perfect harmony, all gathered around a central garden.
Those who live in an urban jungle will understand Buzzi’s desire to build her own private garden in her downtown Milan home. The plush greens offer a world of relaxation and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
“The idea was [to keep] the hectic world out of the door, giving life to a safe haven of peace and quiet,” is how Buzzi explains the refurbishment.
And her design philosophy shines through in the estate. Opting to keep the open-floor plan of the factory for the main rooms, Buzzi preserves the continuity of spaces and built an airy, spacious haven for her family.
Perhaps the most applaudable feat is just how intimate the spaces are. Despite the large, open rooms, Buzzi has created a cosy ambience. On the ground-floor living area, where the living room, dining room and kitchen can be found, the same synergy breezes through the space.
She brings the rooms together with the help of an interesting array of knick-knacks from around the world. From old Chinese lanterns and Balinese bamboo seats to family heirlooms, such as a gorgeous chandelier which hangs over the dining table, Buzzi subtly shows off her creative talent as she plays with different textures and design aesthetics throughout the home.
In fact, despite the array of genres and cultural pieces of furnishings, the same quaint, rustic charm runs through the whole space. Better yet, this continuity has proven to be more than just an artistic nuance. Buzzi takes immense pride in the fact that “this house allows you to constantly live in contact with others, even if they are busy with their own activity in different areas”.
This stands true even when members of the family are preoccupied on different levels of the home. Thanks to an oversized, double staircase – crafted out of acidated steel and larch wood for an extra rustic touch – there is an open dialogue between the upper and lower floors. Standing at the bottom of the staircase, or lounging in the little library nook the architect created by the stairs, Buzzi and her family can interact freely despite the distance between the spaces.
Although the bedrooms upstairs are smaller and more intimately sized, the architect successfully evokes the same airy ambience. “I especially created small balconies in order to let natural light in,” the architect says. Large floor-to-ceiling doors and windows let an abundance of natural light into the rooms. “Through [these] openings and windows we get original and undivided perspectives [of the gardens].”
In the bedroom, a solid larch wood bed takes centre stage. Added intimacy comes from the fact that the architect designed it herself. Adorning the bed is a berber cover Buzzi bought in Marrakesh. The soft white hue of the cover provides warmth and comfort against the dark wooden roof and grey accent wall. These subtle touches are what give the home its heart and soul in each and every room. As you explore the space, whether the architect’s home, her studio and her bed and breakfast, these touches subtly shine through – demanding a well-warranted second glance and admiration.
It goes without saying that those who stay at her bed and breakfast will have a front row seat and private viewing of the architect’s world. With such attention to detail shown throughout the design of her home, we can only imagine that Buzzi is the perfect host.