The enchanting transformation of a 30s apartment into a living masterpiece

transformation of an apartment of the years . Icon Architects Associates apartment promenade. ph monicaspice
The enchanting transformation of a 30s apartment into a living masterpiece it has been modified: 2023-05-15 di Benedetto Fiori

The extraordinary transformation of a 30s apartment thanks to the work of Icona Architetti Associati. The promenade apartment, the result of a creative and innovative project, challenges architectural conventions, offering a unique living experience. A linear path that winds along the residence is born from a problematic spatial distribution, enriched by suggestive corners and multifunctional spaces.

Icona Architetti Associati has recently completed the renovation of a very particular apartment located on the first floor of an apartment building dating back to the 30s. This conservative restoration project lasted from 2016 to 2020 and involved the entire building, with Icona Architetti Associati responsible for the artistic direction.

The residence-promenade extends along the entire volume of the building, with the entrance overlooking the internal courtyard and the main room which opens onto the noble front facade towards the street. Between these two points, the residence develops through a series of bottlenecks and corners, which are the result of fragmentations and divisions over time, which are not always happy.

The architects found themselves faced with a stimulating challenge: to overcome the limits imposed by a plan that is very difficult to interpret and to use them creatively to design a contemporary and comfortable home. The most logical, but also the least satisfactory solution would have been to place the living room and social area near the entrance. However, this would have meant sacrificing the room with the most scenic view, the one towards the main façade.

To overcome this challenge, a completely reversed perspective was adopted, resulting in an inverted distribution of spaces. The bedrooms have been positioned near the entrance, while the living area has been moved towards the main façade. This redistribution has definitively resolved the contradiction relating to the best location for the living room, rebalancing the concept of living. The living room and kitchen have thus found their ideal location. However, other issues remained to be resolved, some pre-existing and others generated by the new redistribution of spaces.

For example, how to exploit the very long connecting corridor between the two new ecosystems without limiting it to a simple functional passage? The corridor is one of the most problematic elements in contemporary renovation projects: a legacy of the distribution logics of the past, today it is often perceived as a waste rather than a function, especially when space is limited.

To reinterpret the meaning and logic of this corridor, which could not be eliminated, a further creative effort was developed, imagining it as a real "linear room". It was as if the four walls of a small living room had been broken up and aligned in one direction. In this way, a real promenade has been created, a linear gallery in which angles and functions that are normally found in a common room follow one another. Along the way, one can find a bench, a bookcase, a wardrobe, a console with a mirror and a shelf, arranged one after the other along the way. Each of these micro-functions is highlighted by specific finishes, such as oak, ash-grey panels and metal.

The promenade leads us to a small study located in a corner bathed in the grace of natural light from the west, which delicately illuminates the room for the whole day. Even the studiolo is the result of a lateral design, conceived in close connection with the "linear room" of the unconventional corridor. The decision to only partially delimit it, by means of an elegant glass wall, has allowed the light to spread throughout the spaces of the promenade, giving a natural brightness that would otherwise be impossible. An arch marks the end of the linear bedroom and the entry into a new territory, that of the living room and dining room.

To compensate for the angularity of the plan, particularly accentuated in this area, a boiserie was created which, by rounding the corners of the furniture, mitigated the sensation of a narrow space. The bespoke kitchen has been carefully inserted, making the most of the remaining spaces. Even the column, a cumbersome element of the room, has been integrated and hidden within the furnishing system, alternating between oak and grey, escaping from view. The living room is a spacious and bright room, thanks to the two large French windows overlooking the balcony.

The generous height of the ceilings recalls the buildings of the past, emphasized by the very pronounced window frames and mouldings. In keeping with the original character of the room, the padding has not been modified, while the original fixtures, now compromised, have been replaced with new ones that have re-proposed their geometries and decorations.

As for the finishes, blue-grey was chosen as the color to accompany the natural oak, which dominates both on the vertical surfaces, with elaborate boiseries that adorn a large part of the perimeter of the house, and on the horizontal ones, where the herringbone parquet Italian original, unfortunately not recoverable, has been replaced with a new oak floor, keeping the same herringbone pattern.

Thanks to a project that has been able to think in an innovative way, the residence-promenade has been reborn into a new life. As if she were wearing a tailored suit, she was finally enabled to tone down her harsher features, emphasizing only the elegance of her style.

IAA U floor plan

project info

PROJECT: The promenade house – Noble floor in Porta Venezia, Milan

YEAR: 2021

Architectural project
Executive project
Artistic direction
Construction supervision
Custom furniture design
Lighting design

DESIGN TEAM: Domenico Cacciapaglia, Federica Poggio, Marco Orto

Associated Architects icon
Freestanding living room lamps: Oluce – coupè
Floor ceiling lamp: Flos – parentesi
Table suspension: Tooy – nabila
Kitchen suspension: Il Fanale – bon ton
Kitchen/living room/entrance/corridor spotlights: Arkos light – fit recessed
Study suspension: Artemide – tolomeo
Master bedroom suspension: Artemide – miconos
Master bedroom lamps: Flos – Lampadina
Master bathroom lamp: Flos- coordinates

Dining table chairs: Cassina – Luisa
Living room table: Lema – Shade
Sofa: Meridians – Timothy
Smoke table: antiques from the 50s
Carpet: Antique dealer from the 30s, unique piece
Sideboard: Lema – Rainbow
Armchair: Cassina – Utrecht
Kitchen stool: Scab design – Trick
Studio-living partition glass: treP+
Sommier: Meridians – Fox
Desk: Cassina – Sled
Desk chair: Cassina – Lightweight
Master bed: Bolzan – Flag
Master bedroom carpet: cc-tapis

Kitchen and living room: Designed by iaa
materials: Florim top
kitchen doors and boiserie: lacquered wood with boiserie in custom-shaped strips and custom painted in collaboration with Falegnameria Buila
Promenade furniture: Custom iaa design
materials: varnished wood, varnished iron and paneling in custom-shaped strips and varnished custom in
collaboration with Buila carpentry
Walk-in closet: Designed by iaa in collaboration with Falegnameria Buila
Master bathroom cabinet: designed by iaa in collaboration with Falegnameria Buila

Sky ceramics
Nice faucet

Internal parquet: CP parquet with custom varnishing

Brun Fine Art
UP/art Milan

Monica Spice

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