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Piero Portaluppi: A Glimpse at Villa Necchi Campiglio

Updated: Jun 12, 2021

Like much of Milanese architecture, the beauty of Villa Necchi Campiglio does not meet the eye at street view. Tucked away in the neighborhood of Porta Monforte, Villa Necchi was completed in 1935 by renowned Italian architect, Piero Portaluppi. Portaluppi, born in Milan in 1888 to Luisa Gadda e Oreste, an engineer, went on to study at Polytechnic University of Turin.

In 1910 he graduated with a degree in architecture making his professional debut in the Engineer Corps. World War I was in full swing and with his creative skill, Portaluppi began to design hydroelectric power plants alongside energy magnet Ettore Conti.

After the strife of World War I, Portaluppi was appointed as a professor of architecture and established his private architectural practice. Commissioned for many unique projects such as Pinacoteca di Brera and Villa Fossati, he established a vernacular of restrained classism fused with emblematic Milanese touches.

Conti introduced Portaluppi to many high-profile families of Milan leading to his commission of numerous private residences. These private residences are integral to the fabric of 19th Century Milanese design. Villa Necchi Campiglio, among these residences, perfectly represents the 1930s Rationalist and Art Deco movements of Milan.

With an austere exterior, Villa Necchi Campiglio was developed for the Necchi Campiglio family, industrialists who owned and operated a cast-iron manufacturing company. Angelo Campiglio purchased the plot of land on Via Mozart and spared no expense in having Portaluppi design a residence unparalleled to Milanese homes of the time.

The interiors are a luxe mix of ornate materials and classic lines rooted in juxtaposition. The main floor is expansive and fluid often making for an uninterrupted line of sight down the entirety of the dwelling. Equipped with the first heated outdoor pool in Milan, a tennis court, and plenty of grand spaces for entertaining, the home represents an irrefutable amalgamation of Italian composition. The house was deliberately designed to receive guests as shown by the floor-plan. Public spaces are imposing yet inviting while private spaces are concealed by lack of natural flow to those spaces.

During the 1940s the single-family home was occupied by the Italian fascist party followed by the English, then the Dutch as a consul of the Netherlands. The family then returned from their countryside home in the early 1950s to reoccupy the home.

In 2001, following the death of Gigina Necchi, the home was donated to the Fondo Ambiente Italiano. In 2008 the mansion opened to the public as a museum and the following year was used as the home of Recchi in Luca Guadagino's I Am Love.

Almost a century after its inception, Villa Necchi Campiglio still epitomizes modern elegance. The prolific work of Portaluppi shaped the vision of the Milanese design of the 1930s up through today. One cannot acknowledge the essence of what makes Milanese design so powerful without the acknowledgment of Piero Portaluppi and Villa Necchi Campiglio.

x Natalie

Follow Natalie on Instagram: @natalieealdridge

Images: FAI / Villa Necchi Campiglio

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