In a small town in Oporto, Portugal, Ezzo Architects has transformed a townhouse still standing from the days of Romanticism into a vibrant Modernist dream space. The house was able to retain its original granite masonry and wooden structure, allowing it to convey its old charm – all within a space that’s just three meters wide.
The architects took on the task of reconstructing the unique house on Outerio Street, which dates back to the 19th century, and at the beginning of the renovations the only thing existing was the house’s main structure; massive wooden beams and a façade made out of granite masonry. The biggest challenge laid in the fact that the space was only three meters wide and seven meters long, not to mention the fact that it consisted of four uneven floors. On top of that, Ezzo was asked to maintain all the structural elements inside and out while creating a completely new interior. The solution? Each floor, or platform, was assigned its own special function.
The idea behind the house plan was to create an internal dialogue between the social functions of the spaces and the hill upon which it was built. To create a flowing plan and distribution between the rooms the architects worked with ‘hidden’ staircases – vertical access points realized by using straight-line stairs. The doors from the street lead into the entrance, making out the entire ground floor, which in turn leads up to the bedroom, located on the first floor. Another flight of stairs and you step into the combined living room, kitchen and dining area – arranged in an open plan structure. On the top floor one finds an office and a roof terrace. Strictly functional spaces such as the bathroom and laundry room were placed in between floors.
Ezzo also worked with intriguing materials throughout the house, which refer to the room’s functions and location in the house. The entrance is, for example, a metaphor for the shelter a cave provides, which Ezzo communicates with a course sand-plaster on the walls and earthy colors. The two lower floors are the oldest and built in granite and wood, while the upper floors have walls coated with curved fiber plates. The rear façade has, similarly, been given a curved cellular polycarbonate finish to illuminate and draw attention to the interior.