This house lies on a narrow, long rectangular plot of land in a relatively built-up section of Porto. The design is an in-depth exploration of elegant and refined living solutions. The house's narrow façade fronts onto the street, marked by the architectural elements that clearly define the volumes and images. It has an evident division into three sections, rich in suggestion. The entrance is at an angle, protected by the slightly projecting upper floor, while the actual front door stands next to a glazed wall that only allows the viewer to glimpse "silhouettes". The windowless upper facade visually sits on the lower level, without seeming to weigh it down excessively. The cladding of 'kinetic azulejos' provides a dynamic, light touch to the upper level, as light is mirrored on the rectangular double-faced slightly raised tiles. To the side rises the metal garage door.
The structural design of the facade is a precursor to the key aspects of the architectural rationale at play here. It is all about the integration of volumes and decorative partitions, an intense relationship with light, and transforming constraints (the shape of the plot, the easements with the adjacent property etc.) into living improvements through design. The house is inward-looking, defining a variety of relationships in the sequence of volumes and the connection with the open spaces carved out in the property. There is a little garden between the two volumes of the house, which are linked by a narrow corridor running along the southern wall, and a space at the end of the plot with a pond that provides charming reflections of the living and kitchen area.
It is, as noted, inward-looking, with a refined sequence of rooms and skilful use of natural light to define and modulate dynamic differences between spaces. The living area, immediately after the entrance, is a place for meditation. The division of space is fluid, yet clearly and carefully defined, the entrance space flows into the longitudinal corridor, the walls, covered with closets, naturally separate it from the living room. The inner full-height glazed wall provides natural light and a free, airy focal point. In the corridor, the stairs lead up to the upper floor, with the bedrooms and studio. The staircase is suspended, not touching or weighing on the floor. Sculpture-like, it rises in a haze of light from the window looking onto the road and the fragments of zenithal light from the upper floor.
Light is turned into a true architectural element. The corridor on the upper floor, linking the bedroom and studio, is lit through a skylight and a series of openings on the roof. This produces a sort of 'gradual' light that defines the space by marking out sections, with speckles of direct light somehow becoming diffuse. In the corridor, there is a clear visual dynamism at play that furthers the organisation of the various elements, such as the stairs, the wall in shades of grey, the access to the rooms, the lines that seek elegance and refinement.
The house has a very gentle tone that sharpens up even the slightest sensory perceptions, like one of those paintings formed of thousands of dots. The viewer slowly works out the overall picture, when exploring the spaces, the volumes and the directions suggested by the architecture.
The building has two, differently-sized parts that are somehow fragmented, yet completely part of the architectural whole. The volume facing onto the road, with two aboveground floors, speaks a language of materials that is almost tangible, with light an integral element. The azulejos tiles provide different colours and nuances and the interior pathways revel in an abstract atmosphere. The volume at the end of the plot, glazed and extending between two open spaces, is the measure of a more social space, despite its rigorous geometry. It is permeable, providing links to all the open spaces around it.
Location: Porto, Portugal
Gross Floor Area: 280 m2
Architects: Correia/Ragazzi Arquitectos
Design Team: Inês Ruas, João Marques, Nuno Vasconcelos, Rita Breda, Tiago Costa
Contractor: Almeidas & Magalhães
Structural, Hidraulic: Glser
Technical Facilites, Electrical: Genco
Photography: © Luís Ferreira Alves
Correia/Ragazzi Arquitectos was founded by Graça Correia (Porto, Portugal, 1965) and Roberto Ragazzi (Poggio Rusco, Italy, 1969) through which they develop individual and shared projects.
Graça Correia graduated from FAUP (Faculdade de Arquitectura do Porto) in 1989 and until 1995 collaborated with Eduardo Souto de Moura, when she started her individual trajectory as an architect, however in 2000, they began developing a partnership being co-authors of some projects, namely the ongoing Rehabilitation of the Robinson Factory in Portalegre. Defended her PhD thesis in 2006 at the UPC (Universitat Politécnica da Catalunha) which made the final selection for the ARQUIA 2007 Competition. Author of several articles, in 2008 published the book “Ruy Athouguia: A Modernida em Aberto” and in 2013 the book “Ruy D’Athouguia” as a part of a collection on Portuguese architects. Has been teaching since 1990 at several universities; at the moment teaches at FAUP and integrates the new direction board of the architecture graduate degree at Universidade Lusófona, Porto.
Roberto Ragazzi graduated from IUAV (Instituto Universitário de Arquitectura de Veneza) in 1997 with the thesis Città di Treviso. Un progetto per le aree: ex-scalo Motta, stadio ed ex-Foro Boario. Between 1998 and 1999 worked at the professional modelling studio of Alvaro Negrello, in Porto. From 2000 until 2005 collaborated and was project coordinator at the architecture office of Virginio Moutinho. The work of CORREIA/RAGAZZI ARQUITECTOS has received several distinctions, national and international awards, has been exhibited and extensively published; they have given conferences and lectures at numerous universities.