Location: Milan, Italy
Piero Pinto, Interior design
During Alhadeff’s renovation of the Central Temple of Milan layers of history were exposed to restore design coherency to this most important monument of the Jewish community of Milan. In 1890, Arch. Luca Beltrami responded to the influences of byzantine and middle-eastern architecture in his design for the first temple of Milan, which corresponded to the demographics of the community at that time. The structure suffered numerous bombings during WWII and various restructurings soon after. D’Urbini and Gentili Tedeschi won a competition which resulted in a design strongly inspired by Rationalism after the war: prismatic in form and classical in layout. Only the façade remained from the original structure. Alhadeff’s recent renovation expanded this classical layout, opened up a central soaring nave, deepened two lateral spaces, and expanded the upper seating balcony, restoring the stained glass window to its original size, which had been severely compromised through earlier renovations. The windows were commissioned and designed by the artist Roger Selden, who worked closely with Venetian glass manufacturers, interpreting icons of Jewish tradition and casting them into a modern, bright addition to the classical presence. Light and color are the principal elements distinguishing Alhadeff’s design. The re-opening of pre-existing windows has brought added light into the upper balconies which had been sealed for decades. The shaped ceiling encourages the play of light which is fundamental to the design. The newly brightened palette, which includes marble floors (red Trani marble, Perlato di Sicilia marble), light colored stucco walls, and golden mosaic tiles challenge and recall the Byzantine spirit of this modern contemplative space.