Mario Filippetto Architetto Gives Modern Refresh to 18th-Century Milanese Chapel
Reverence is the theme in any house of worship. In the case of the tidy Votive Chapel, reverence takes on double meaning: religiously as well in regard to the 18th-century masonry structure it replaced. Situated in Casnate con Bernate, just north of Milan, modern city planning had placed the historical roadside structure, once at the entrance to the town, in the midst of a roundabout, rendering it inaccessible to worshippers. So, the local government commissioned a new shrine from Mario Filippetto Architetto that would stand in a parklike setting.
“The simple idea,” Mario Filippetto says, “was to keep the proportions of the old chapel yet reverse its relationship between light and material.” The resulting 95-square-foot edifice gleams in white board-formed concrete. Unlike its predecessor, the side planes, now rotated 45 degrees, are almost entirely solid, while the entire roof is a skylight. Its 23-foot-high peak and lowest point, however, are “the same relative dimensions as the previous,” he explains.
A gravel pathway leads from the landscape to the altar, a marble parallelepiped carved by a local sculptor. Above it hangs a restored painting of the Madonna. Apertures punctuating the facades representing Cassiopeia and the North Star provide celestial inspiration.