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Santa Teresa by PF Architecture Studio, Portugal

Santa Teresa is a street located in the heart of the reborn Oporto downtown, A big urban area that slowly got abandoned and grew older in the last thirty years, but has recently been subject of a radical change, either social, cultural, economic and architectural consequently.

Photography by João Morgado

Within this dynamic, very driven by tourism, we were invited to refurbish the Santa Teresa building: a house of the nineteenth century, on a typical batch built into many of the quarters of Oporto. The plant is a rectangle (5.50 x 20,00m) with centred but asymmetric stairs, which has undergone several use changes over the century. XX, coming to us in a state of pre-ruin.

The challenge: create the largest possible number of small apartments for temporary lease, city breaks.

The proposal is assumed in response to this program, in which the existing guide serves us for a timelines dialogue, and based on a simple principle: re-inhabit the space respecting the two moments: the past and the present, the existing and the new. The solution comes ironically from Malvina Reynolds Little Boxes song.

The principle of preserving the entire building structure, floors, walls, ceilings, doors and windows with their formal characteristics and unique tectonic, and integrate small white, unpretentious and abstract boxes that house the new program elements such as kitchens and homes bath, formally defining the existing and the new.

The result are nine purged apartments, where the light plays a fundamental role in the space design.

The building’s shape made possible on the ground floor an attic apartments, the design of different typologies through the use of mezzanines and outdoor spaces.

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