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The House of Balanced Contradictions

Unusual combinations that transcend tastes and eras characterize this Milan home by PLUS UTLRA studio

With The House of Balanced Contradictions, PLUS ULTRA studio confirms its ability to tell stories and express beautiful spaces by seamlessly traversing time and styles, working on an accurate definition of the furnishings and the search for new design solutions.

Through their design for The House of Balanced Contradictions, individual inclinations become an opportunity to find new possibilities of encounter: the couple's desire to have a more open-space organization of rooms and their request for more enclosed and separate spaces, leads to the invention of a series of different types of screens, which characterize the environments in this home.  “The client”, says Alessandra Castelbarco Albani of PLUS ULTRA studio, “has always been passionate about modern antiques with a particular attention to the Deco period. This is not the first house I design for her: a few years ago I designed the house where she had gone to live by herself, where part of her furniture collection had to be accommodated. I had therefore got to know her passion for non-aseptic environments, her love for bold colors and open spaces.”

The architects redesigned a 65-squaremeter apartment in Milan, in the Porta Venezia neighborhood, to meet the needs of its new owners. The designers have made the best use of the spaces, offering some uncommon solutions.

House of Balanced Contradictions by Plus Ultra studio. | Federico Villa

Guests are welcomed into an entryway that obliquely fits into the plan, as if to separate the apartment into two parts. Overlooking the living room, the entry is characterized by a flooring featuring black and white geometric shapes inspired by Déco and Op Art, a lowered ceiling and custom-made angular furniture: a green lacquered and Vienna straw screen partially shielding the view. A mirror placed in the corner enhances the interplay of geometries, illusorily widening the space.

The choice of such an unusual floor tile pattern responds to the need to propose a new articulation for the unusual orientation of the entrance wall, that opens at 45 degrees. From here one enters the living room and the kitchen, conceived as two separate rooms but visually connected thanks to the presence of a large double glass door, inspired by the rounded shapes of the 1920s. “The original layout of the entrance wall had a difficult orientation. In order to solve the difficult plan configuration we found, we were greatly inspired by the original spatial solutions and the interiors rich in figurative culture by Luigi Caccia Dominioni, one of the most talented Milanese architects and furniture designers of the mid-1900s," says PLUS ULTRA's Alessandra Castelbarco Albani.

Entryway with a striking black and white floor tile pattern inspired by Op Art. PLUS ULTRA studio. The house of balanced contradictions, Milan, Italy. | Federico Villa
Green lacquered Vienna straw screen partially obscuring the view into the living room from the entryway. This was custom made from a design by PLUS ULTRA studio. | Federico Villa
Culture, Comfort and Chic in Chuzai Living


Culture, Comfort and Chic in Chuzai Living

The door, like the furniture in the living room, satisfies the clients’ sensibilities by combining various pieces of modern antiques and matching them with furniture that was custom designed by PLUS ULTRA, such as the console with Vienna straw doors and brass details, which recalls the screen in the entryway, also designed by the architects.

The living room features a classic hardwood floor while in the kitchen it has the same colors of in the entryway, but with a more minimalist design on a par with the custom-designed furniture.

Living Room. House of Balanced Contradictions. | Federico Villa

In an interplay of cross-references, another black and white floor, featuring reverse colors compared to the adjacent entryway, defines the triangular hallway that leads to the sleeping quarters, with original double wing doors recovered during the renovation work. Here a walk-in closet precedes the bedroom and catches light through a door and an interior Viennese straw window. A partition lined with Fornasetti’s Chiavi Segrete wallpaper characterizes the bedroom in continuity with the headboard of the bed, also designed and made to measure by PLUS ULTRA, where natural oak is combined with a deep blue-grey color inspired by the wallpaper.

Viennese straw headboard in the bedroom and Fornasetti's Chiavi Segrete wallpaper in the bedroom of The House of Balanced Contradictions. | Federico Villa
In Photos: Gong Yoo’s “Almost Home Stay” Campaign Made Us Geek Out On The Hanok


In Photos: Gong Yoo’s “Almost Home Stay” Campaign Made Us Geek Out On The Hanok

In the bathroom the two-tone black and white appears again: here the only touch of color is given by the furniture of the sink, in shades of brick-red. Here the architects have chosen to match the shapes to the design of the original window and door frame. This is the case with the arched opening that frames the window and gives access to the shower area, tiled in white ceramic. The lacquered furniture integrates the existing radiator in a geometric and minimalist design.

PLUS ULTRA studio brings back the black and white scheme first found in the House of Balanced Contradiction's entryway, into the bathroom. | Federico Villa

It is in the combination of modern antiques and contemporary design objects and furniture that the approach of the studio of Castelbarco Albani and Di Nallo is best expressed.  PLUS ULTRA designs tailored interiors, recovering and enhancing the characteristics of the existing spaces they intervene on. Their meticulous approach to composition leads to the definition of personal and sophisticated architectures that do not hesitate to produce eclectic effects in disseminating spaces of references and quotations.

See more of The House of Balanced Contradictions' details here:

This Apartment For A Young Italian Couple Proves That The Color Blue Is Fluid


This Apartment For A Young Italian Couple Proves That The Color Blue Is Fluid

About the Architects

The Latin expression PLUS ULTRA literally means ‘forward’, ‘beyond’.

PLUS ULTRA is a design studio based in Milan and Pesaro, Italy, founded in 2016 by Alessandra Castelbarco Albani and Marco Di Nallo. Through a network of collaborations, PLUS ULTRA deals with multiple areas and projects at different scales: from architecture, to exhibition design and setups, to research and curatorial work of cultural projects.

PLUS ULTRA was born from the desire to go beyond the disciplinary boundaries of architecture by interpreting the project as a creative process applicable to different areas of culture. It interprets the existing as a historical, economic or social resource to be enhanced through the project, regardless of the scale or type of intervention.


All photographs by Federico Villa

Special thanks to Sara Marzullo and Susanne Lambert of Image MEDIA.