Unusual apartment building in Portugal. The plot is only 88 sqm!

Combining old and new in the right way is no easy feat. Especially when we are talking about a several-storey building on a small and narrow plot of land in the heart of the city. Let’s see how Paulo Merlini Architects tackled this task.

The intention of the clients, who approached Paulo Merlini Architects, was to create a residential building with studio and one-bedroom flats. The first challenge was a trapezoid-shaped plot of land measuring just 88 square metres. Its front edge is only 5.5 metres long and tapers down to a width of 2 metres.

“Taking into account the typology of the plot, we placed the staircase in the central part of the volume, freeing up the elevations and thus optimising the capture of natural light inside the flats. A recurring logic of distribution in this type of plot in the city of Porto. To make the best use of the site, we created a complex typology of simplexes and duplexes from the second floor upwards and integrated a small retail space on the first floor, reinforced by a patio on the rear elevation.” – begin the architects

In this way, it has been possible to reduce the amount of space used for corridors (non-saleable area) by optimising the surface area of the flats, creating up to eleven units in the interior with a total area of 649 square metres. Importantly, the individual flats vary in their sizes and layouts, which has made it possible to tailor the offer to different needs and wallets.

“Despite the diversity and in order to ensure that the work is carried out easily and correctly, we have taken care to standardise the elements that make it up.” – add Paulo Merlini Architects

Taking into account the small size of the flats and in order to optically “enlarge” the interiors, an irregular façade made of interlaced concrete arches was created to give the massing more dynamism.

The choice of arches has a double purpose here. On the one hand, they help to add elegance to the façade by linking the elements that make up the facade, while on the other hand, they take advantage of the fact that the arch is the architectural element that best adapts to the shape of the mass, reinforcing the emphatic character of the whole.

“In order to guarantee the privacy of the residents, we created flowerbeds with a height of 0.80 m, which block the axes of vision from the street, provide additional comfort to the interior of the typology and help to compose the façade through the contrast between natural elements and concrete.
On the main façade, the arches define the access openings to the small balconies, 0.60 m deep, also typical of the city of Porto. In this way, we have achieved a building that, although aesthetically very distinctive, reinterprets history, drawing inspiration from the very specific logic of the city’s typical typology.” – conclude the architects

source: Paulo Merlini Architects / www.paulomerlini.com
photos: Ivo Tavares Studio / www.ivotavares.net

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