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The Promenade home ‒ restyling of a 1930s apartment

The flat's layout is inverted, and a dominant passageway becomes a 'linear room', to convert this Milan property into a comfortable contemporary abode

Icona Architetti Associati

Promenade home Milan Icona Architetti Associati
By Redazione The Plan -

The promenade home is located on the first floor of an apartment building erected in the 1930s in the Porta Venezia neighborhood of Milan. It is a tricky space to interpret and rework in a contemporary key, given the distribution and living logic of the era, where high ceilings and long corridors were often opted for. The restyling project for the apartment bears the signature of the Icona Architetti Associati studio which, a few years earlier, had already seen to the renovation and conservation of the building.

The flat's plan crosses the entire length of the edifice. Including some bottlenecks and unusual angles, it stretches from the entrance hall towards the inner courtyard and the living room with its appealing façade overlooking the street. These features put the architects to the test, and they rose to the challenge with creativity and imagination, coming up with a practical and balanced restyling.

The promenade apartment stands as a sophisticated example of how period settings can be reworked in a contemporary key. Its spaces have in fact gained greater comfort and become more attractive, thanks to the complete inversion of their layout: the bedrooms are now located near the entrance, while the day zone is separated off towards the main façade. This solution seemed weak in logic on paper, since living rooms are generally placed close to the entrance, but in this case it has been effective: the living room and kitchen are in the perfect position and the most impressive view can be enjoyed to the full.


Appartamento promenade - Icona Architetti Associati © Monica Spezia, courtesy of Icona Architetti Associati


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A passageway becomes a 'linear room'

The architects drew on their ingenuity also for the passageway space, which they did not want to reduce to a mere functional corridor, instead seeking to give the setting a worthiness of its own. So for this the designers came up with a real 'linear room', unfolding the four walls of a small lounge and straightening these out in a single direction. 

By doing so, a promenade is opened up, generating a sort of linear gallery where a bench, a bookcase, a cupboards unit, and a console table with mirror ‒ all the things found in an ordinary room ‒ are put in a row. Each micro-function has been given its own personal finish: oak wood, ash-gray paneling, or metal.


Appartamento promenade - Icona Architetti Associati © Monica Spezia, courtesy of Icona Architetti Associati

The new space is accessed by moving ahead from the entrance towards the study. This latter is in almost seamless connection with the false passageway and is set out in a corner that is lit naturally during the day. It is only partially closed off, by a stylish glass wall, which allows light to filter into the entire promenade.

Access to the living and dining area is marked by an arch that softens the sternness and angles of the plan, as does the wood paneling as it rounds the edges of the furnishings, mellowing the sense of space. The pillar too ‒ an important feature in the day zone ‒ has been incorporated into the furnishings, which alternate oak with gray: the whole area shows as spacious and bright, also opening up onto a little balcony. The custom-made kitchen has been designed down to the smallest details to make the most of the available space.



Appartamento promenade - Icona Architetti Associati © Monica Spezia, courtesy of Icona Architetti Associati


Blue gray and natural oak

The elegance of the interiors is underscored by the choice of color tones ‒ all leaning to blue gray paired with the natural oak of the wood paneling and the Italian herringbone parquet. Even the generous ceiling heights ‒ a feature of the 1930s ‒ make the settings airy and bright, and these are accentuated by the window and door frames. The project aimed to conserve as far as possible and so these have not been altered, although they have been replaced with new models picking up on the décor and its geometries, since the old ones were beyond repair. The furnishings include a few pieces custom-made to designs by Icona Architetti Associati, and a selection of antiques.


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Location: Milan, Italy
Completion: 2021
Area: 150 m2
Architect: Icona Architetti Associati

Lighting: Artemide
Ceramic: Marazzi

Photography by Monica Spezia, courtesy of Icona Architetti Associati

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