Braga-based architect Tiago do Vale just completed work on the Three Cusps Chalet, a stunning renovation of a small 19th century palace in Portugal. Tiago do Vale made great efforts to preserve the narrow original building's beautiful frescos, intricate stonework, stucco reliefs and rare timber carpentry while salvaging as much of the original building materials as possible.
Working with limited space, Tiago do Vale decided to give the three-story home a vertical loft-style renovation that separates individual areas by level. The bottom level is currently the home’s office or work space. Upstairs, an open living plan includes the kitchen and living room, and the bedroom is on the top floor, complete with an airy vaulted ceiling. The spaces are connected by an open staircase which gets narrower as it goes up to the third floor, providing additional degrees of privacy as it ascends.
Perhaps the project’s most noticeable feature is its abundance of natural light thanks to the lateral position of the building. One side faces the street to the West and the other faces an open lot to the East, resulting in natural light throughout the day. Additionally, a large skylight allows natural light to filter from the top of the home to the bottom-floor working space.
To maximize natural light and space, Tiago do Vale intentionally limited interior finishes and materials to a single color scheme. Stark white is used throughout the home’s walls, ceiling and carpentry. Portuguese white Estremoz marble, chosen for its texture, reflectivity and color, covers the ground floor, kitchen countertops and the bathrooms’ floors and walls. The wooden floor’s natural color contrasts with the white used throughout the home, resulting in a spacious ambience of warmth and comfort.
The renovation of the Three Cusps home focused on using as many original materials as possible to respectfully retain part of home’s elegant past. All of the original wood window frames of the main façade were recovered in the final design. Additionally, the roof was remade with the original Marseille tiles and the decorated eave was restored to its original state.
The result of the detailed renovation is a beautifully modern home that pays homage to the structure’s rich history by retaining and refurbishing a lot of the original building materials. According to Tiago do Vale, keeping that original ambience was integral to the renovation process: “Sometimes an architect finds himself divided, trying to respond to the challenges of a requalification, seduced between the conceptual honesty of a strict, blind restoration and the conceptually dishonest freedom to lie a little bit about it, to make way for the project to go a bit further on any particular matter. When the passing of time is generous, it qualifies and values a building, adding to its original qualities and taking note of its path through time. It shows how the way we relate with our homes (the way we live them) steadily changes and evolves, which is enormously enriching and a marvelous architectural experience.”
Images @João Morgado