40’s House

Type: Refurbishment and transformation of a single-family house
Client: Private
Location: Ílhavo, Portugal
Status: Construction work
Project Author: Maria Fradinho
Team: Ana Soares, Ana Rita Gomes
Project Date: 2019 – 2020
Construction Date: 2021 – on going
Plot Area: 815 m2
Implantation Area: 200 m2
Construction Area: 340 m2
Original Project Author: Unknown
Photography: Ivo Tavares Studio

Built in 1945, this villa belongs to the historical center of Ílhavo. It is isolated, has two fronts and is built with adobe masonry – bricks made of mud and straw – a vernacular material typical from this region of the country.
It is a beautiful example of the architectural style Português Suave, which was developed in Portugal between the 40’s and 50’s of the past century, and where the rigorous use of the defining elements of this movement are notorious.
With a reasonable state of conservation of the facades, but in a clear decay of the interior conditions, this house needs rehabilitation works, but also requalification, as it is unable to serve the needs required nowadays for a home.
We propose to rehabilitate the building with maximum respect for the original design, intervening discreetly, only in specific areas, and only where the new needs so require.
We immediately decide to demolish the southern annex, because of the poor quality of its construction, built afterwards the housing, as well as its total uselessness to the current program needs.
However, another change would determine the architectural solution for this project, namely the intervention in the garage annex which, despite maintaining its implantation stain, undergoes a complete change with the reversal of the parking direction – the entry of cars is now made by the back of the property.
Not only is this road is wider, but it also allows a comfortable opening to enter into the property. This would be impractical at the small front street, once we intend to preserve the main facade.

This is crucial since, on the one hand, it frees up the exterior area where vehicles used to enter, to become pedestrian spaces – the house can now turn to these spaces and treat them as a patio, enhancing the relationship between its interior and exterior.
On the other hand, the inversion of the direction of the vehicles entrance creates an even bigger condition: the duty to interpret the rear facade of the house as a new front facade.
In this sense, we tried to solve the less well-treated aspects of this facade, where we realise that it is simplistic, in relation to the treatment given in the main facade.
Despite the original design of that facade is maintained, the most vulnerable and least successful aspects are now design objects.
A light, geometric, and abstract volume stands out to compose the new front design, without conflicting with the richness of detail of the original one.
This volume supports a metal pergola, enclosed with sliding screens that fold in whenever desired, to protect new outdoor lounge. This space blends with the interior, through large openings into the living room, while on the other side of it, finishes off with the pool, which extends there, at a higher level.
The swimming-pool drops its water to a flowerbed at the lower level, creating a composition game with nature that appeals to the senses, listening to the sound od water falling, and hearing the leaves of the vegetation moving with the wind, while enjoying the light effects that the perforations of this cover create in this place. It is a natural space, fresh and comfortable.
On the first floor we propose to demolish the exterior wall that encloses the old covered balcony, to give way to a permeable structure, a Cobogó, which protects that area without breaking its visual relationship with the backyard. The large window on the balcony designs a new language for the most changed area at the first floor, namely the master suite.

On the ground floor the interiors are severely reformed, except for the lobby, which is the only space of architectural value. All other spaces are in very poor conditions, and have a simplistic design, compared to other areas of the house, missing the details.
For this floor we propose a total spatial reorganization, with the creation of a common open-space area, which requires several demolitions of pre-existing compartments. A lightweight metal frame will redesign the new structures, without conflicting with the pre-existing wooden frames. This will be the space whose language will be mainly contemporary, both in terms of design, as coatings.
The whole building is white, colour so current, timeless and, besides, preferred by the original style of this house. On the other hand, the white colour reduces the impact of the shapes, helping the transition and unification of the two styles of this architectural piece.
The 40’s House has two fronts and two histories, which relate in harmony.