How a sustainability aspiration has evolved into a new concept of urban living.

It all started from asking two easy questions

A couple of years ago, when we started thinking about this new idea I asked Michele, my partner, a simple question: “Can we start doing something green and innovative right now?  ” His answer was a resounding “yes we can”. (Michele loves to quote whenever an opportunity arises…).

The idea was to try to identify a new concept of urban living: sustainability, wellbeing, respect and independence were our keywords. However, the first challenge was on sustainability, consequently we focused on it.

So, following some research on sustainable construction, we decided to develop our new complex with the most sustainable material of all, wood. Wood, we discovered, substantially reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the building phase, requires less energy, has a lower environmental impact and smaller carbon footprint than conventional building methods. Furthermore, it absorbs CO2, slashes waste, pollution, and reduces overall environmental impact when the material’s life cycle is considered.

The obvious and easy choice at that point was to select a producer committed to sourcing timber panels from sustainable forests.

However, a more challenging question arose straight after:

“How can we guarantee universal wellbeing to those living in our new building?”

Wellbeing for us equates to, amongst many things, clean air and soundproof rooms. Consequently, two rather complicated decisions had to be made. First of all the one regarding the “house engine” (in other words the technological systems that a next gen house needs to function) and a second one on the “house body” or structure. As far as the engine was concerned, we chose state of the art technological plants (heat pumps combined with a Controlled Mechanical Ventilation system (VMC)) to ensure correct and energy efficient air circulation with perfect indoor temperatures all year round. Furthermore, by installing fully integrated photovoltaic panels on the roof, in the same color as the tiles we essentially killed two birds with one stone by achieving energy independence all year round whilst greatly improving the aesthetics of the panel itself.

The second difficult choice we had to make was ensuring that all rooms and apartments were well isolated both from internal and external noise. We therefore opted for triple glazed windows and decided that all partition walls between apartments, rooms, or intra-floors, had to be made of sound deadening material. A combination of wood layers and soundproofing mats was the perfect solution to our problem, so we adopted it.  “High five Michele, it seems we’ve made the right choice!”

We felt even more accomplished when our building achieved the top of the class category in thermal performance – it’s been classified as a Near Zero Energy Building – and reached the top position in acoustic performance as well ( by simplifying it a bit, better comfort for those living inside). When we realized that we are most probably the first enterprise to develop a sustainable wood building in the design and fashion capital of Milan, our city, Michele added “eco-living. What else?”

our keywords to identify a new concept of urban living

The second question we had to address was:

Can we offer a living solution for the newer generations that combines wellbeing, comfort, privacy, facilitates social interaction, simplifies relocation, offers flexible contracts and generally makes life easier?”

It was a challenging task indeed: identifying a new concept of urban living was quite complicated. Therefore we started reading books, articles, discussed the subject with architects. Then we analyzed several living experiences in various part of the world. In the end, we came up with the idea of combining two different types of living model: the co-housing and co-living. Private apartments ranging from studios to apartments with a max of 3 rooms each, to secure the privacy of each individual or micro-group. However, in addition, we want to design some spaces dedicated to creating sharing opportunties for the complex residents. The goal was to keep the advantages of offering a great degree of privacy to everyone and, at the same time, enable them to meet, share experiences and exploit the advantages of being part of a like-minded community.

After having done so, with some clarity about the objectives we wanted to achieve, the architectural design started, and shortly after, we chose the construction partner for our eco-building. Today, with the building in its final days of construction, we can safely say we have achieved our goals.

Finally, we had to address and define the key drivers ruling our living proposal.  A sort of framework of values or leadership principles if you were. In all communities some common goals are necessary. The value-based guidelines we identified are those plastered all over the home page and throughout our entire site. “Repetita juvant!”, Michele added.

Sustainability
as a way of living,
Wellbeing, a defining trait
Respect
for others and the environment
Independence, freedom of choice whenever and however

This is the story of how it all started. How a sustainability aspiration has evolved into the construction of a real building, or, as we like to define it, a new concept of urban living.

Hope you’ll like it as much as we do

Giulio&Michele

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