Ex Cinema Maestoso | deamicisarchitetti | World Design Awards 2023

deamicisarchitetti: Winner of World Design Awards 2023. The Ex Cinema Maestoso, built in 1912, has become over time a symbol of the city of Milan. Renovated in 1975 from the current property Italcine srl, the cinema continued its activity until 2007 when it had to close due to the movie theatres’ crisis. Today the building reopens with a new collective function, becoming a sports centre for Virgin Active. The basic idea was to find a design strategy that would not be able to make a clean slate of the pre-existence, but, on the contrary, to find a way to meet new needs while preserving the memory of the place, since the building belongs to the collective memory of Milan.

The aim of this operation was to return to the city a building that, by position and characteristics, continued to express its “public role” regardless of the functions temporarily installed. In addition, this renovation belongs to a piece of the city that in the future it will be subject of large transformations, starting from the railway yard of Porta Romana to the node of Piazzale Lodi, among the most significant ones. This building, aware of the role that the area will assume in the future, is therefore the first piece of a large-scale urban redevelopment.

The renovation project (5.000 square meters) was conceived as a unique and continuous organization but realized through a metamorphosis of forms, which, starting from the maintenance of some portions of the facade with memories of the ’30s, are transformed into reinterpretations of stylistic elements of the past (re-proposal of the marbles that once adorned the entrance of the cinema), up to the proposition of new contemporary forms. The building consists of three parts: the entrance volume (pre-existing in shape and new in materials), the façade on Viale Umbria (pre-existing and restored) and the great hall that completes the complex in depth taking care to safeguard the pre-existing tree (part of new formation). The three parts are so architecturally connected in a single building body, which, in its unified development in a metamorphic process, bears with it the marks of almost a century of architecture, from the thirties to the present day.

The project also intends to encourage the dialogue with the city, on one hand by opening the facades with large windows so to make visible the internal activities and, on the other hand, by making its presence special in the urban area thanks to the roof covered with glass tiles and the new brass coating, which are both able to receive and reflect the light in unexpected and different ways depending on the weather conditions.

Project Details

Giacomo De Amicis

Project Name
Ex Cinema Maestoso

World Design Awards Category
Public Building Built

Project Location
Milan, Italy



Photography ©Credit
©Alberto Strada

Deamicisarchitetti, founded by Giacomo De Amicis in 2005, focuses its projects on enhancing that typically Italian ability to interpret, contaminate and blend together ideas and languages from different places, times, and cultural contexts. The ambition is to create projects that retain a sense of time but are new and original in their outcome and meaning. The studio’s works range in all fields of application, from building renovation to new construction. It has received numerous awards including the Inarch 2020, Iconic Award 2020, the International Architecture Awards 2021, and the Plan Award 2021. Deamicisarchitetti took part in the Biennale of Architecture 2018, Italy pavilion.