A (very) small brutalist townhouse in Porto

A (very) small brutalist townhouse in Porto
A (very) small brutalist townhouse in Porto

The house is located in an old poor neighborhood of Porto, but a neighborhood in the making. “My father is of Portuguese origin and, at the time I bought, I was reconnecting with my paternal roots, confides François Leite. I came across this house which had been poorly renovated, without authorization, a few years ago. A very dark house, without amenities…” But then, during his first visit, the architect discovered at the back of the house a small virgin forest of lianas and vegetation from which a piece of rock emerged and he instantly fell in love at first sight. From there the design work begins, “quite a long time, because it’s not easy when it comes to your own home, the trade-offs are not the same.” Above all, it is an opportunity for François Leite to translate the ambitions he has for housing and architectural creation. – ” just that ! is he having fun “. At the time, he had been working for ten years in an urban planning agency, on other scales. “It was the moment to find myself confronted with a more experimental and “robust” place in the sense that sustainable development is assessed in terms of energy production and the materials used for its renovation as well as the sustainability of the places that we create through the modularity of spaces – here a place of residence, work, exhibition of young artists –, in connection with the people who will inhabit it, those who will inhabit it afterwards , then afterwards, without having to redo any work. This involves open and modular spaces but also the provision of additional water or electricity points. I often think of a house as a potential gallery, a place for a party or artistic event that could be approached in another way. »

A large sliding bay window opens onto a patio garden populated with ferns. A large terrazzo concrete bench, a sort of interior engawa, creates a gentle transition to the exterior. Facing a large granite stone wall, exposed, another, white and luminous creates contrast. Like furniture and wooden objects in fabrics with the concrete of the staircase or the cement beams ceiling.

Photos: Lucile Casanova / Set design: Marion Di Rodi

Soak up the place

The first phase of renovation consists of imagining a small patio that is both mineral and plant-based on which to lean to give charm to the construction which is devoid of it. François Leite retains the existing volume: he changes neither the roof nor the facade. While clearing he realizes that the rock is immense, that it is overlooked by a sublime dry stone wall which supports the high ground behind the house, located on an old granite quarry which was used to build the church just next to. This house is a ilhastypical workers’ housing that appeared in Porto in the 19th centurye century which includes a passage, a sort of alley which leads to the bottom of each plot from the street. The previous owner having covered it, the passage, closed on the street side, saves a few additional square meters – we are approaching 60 square meters.

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