Umberto Riva, Casa Frea, Milan, Italy, 1983

Umberto Riva, Casa Frea, Milan, Italy, 1983

Umberto Riva, Casa Frea, Via Sant’Eusebio 13, Milan (Italy), 1983. (view in google maps)
Casa Frea is considered to be one of the masterpieces in the career of Umberto Riva but also one of the finest project among those of the Italian modern designers. In 1985 the project has been exhibited to the Biennale of Paris and at the Triennale of Milano.
The general concept of the interiors of Casa Frea is to create a strongly dynamic and active space, a work where architecture melts in interiors proceeding towards the design of the single object (and/or viceversa).
The interior distribution of the house is articulated around some fixed furniture which is particularly noticeable in the ground floor that participate in creating the strong irregularity in shapes, angles and flows: the screening booth in the entry, the angular window an the chemney in the living room, the wardrobe under the stairs and the porch that opens on the rear garden.
But irregularity is not the only aspect that participate in creating a  sharp, original and very special spaces. Some unusual, at the time, and smart practical solutions have been adopted in order to solve some technical and practical problems that spaces might encounter. An example is the bathroom of the first floor of Casa Frea: the angular wall that particiaptes in creating the irregular atmosphere is made of glass bricks since the room did have no access to natural light. These glass blocks are not full height and in the lower part of the wall there are some tiles, just like the ones on the floor. Thanks to the glass blocks, the light from the stairwell comes into the bathroom.
Another example of practical use of space that Riva designed for the house are the wooden walls which are designed in a way that are able to host the closets.
Everything in this house appears to be “furniture” which acts as inner and outer borders of the interior spaces.


  • Album di disegni, in Quaderni di Lotus n.10, Milano, 1989

  • Abitare magazine N. 368, p. 70-79, 1997
  • Abitare : rivista mensile N. 512, p. 51-60, 2011

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Reviewed March 2017 by:

Sofiane Décombas-Deschamps

Darija Malesevic

Valentijn Veragten

Lode Borghs