Frari | Arch House

Arch House

Type: Construction

Client: Private

Size: Plot 940 m2 | Building 300 m2

Location: Ílhavo – PORTUGAL

Status: Built

Year of Project: 2014 – 2016

Year of Construction: 2016 – 2018

Team: Maria Fradinho (Project Leader), Norally Faustino and Rafael Morais


This single-family house, with 2 bedrooms, is deployed at a 940 sqm plot, located in the surroundings of the city of Ílhavo.

The project is related to its location, mostly residential, but due to the presence of one of the most important industries in the region, the Factory of Vista Alegre, the villa is inspired by the industrial architecture and is materialized as an uniform body, made of metallic materials and where the inside is independent of its outer casing.

The house follows the continuity of the existing buildings, with the front facade ensuring alignments with the consolidated neighbours. But the volume let “disappear” the gabled roof of its urban facade, providing a stylized element that allows the permeability of light and views, in a symbolic game of association to the unavoidable presence of the arch that marks the entrance to the place of Vista Alegre. This element symbolizes the “crowning” of this facade, proposed in the form of triangular arch, parallel to the rooftop.
The theatricality of this facade gives the name to the project, but it is not only defined by it.

The home itself recedes in relation to the described urban facade, creating a semi-private space of inner protection while ensuring a front patio, that allows all the true main facade to be completely open, and covered by big glass windows.
The front door opens into a porch where this semi-private space is shown, in between the two front facades, creating a moment of rupture of the outside environment, preparing us for the new reality of the interior. It is a real “bridge” that links two seemingly contiguous realities, but nevertheless truly different.

After entering in a “wooden box” that leads us trough the kitchen to the living area, we are amazed by the high scale.
Inspired by industrial ship containers, the game of rectangular volumes at the inside creates total ceiling heights in some areas, recreating the great industrial environment of a main nave.
This set of different heights of the ceilings, extends the spaces and makes them more comprehensive, providing a visual relationship between various places of the house.
This way it is ensured the feel of a single space occupied by smaller elements, which are distributed in the building in a “sliding” movement along its length, creating a rhythm that breaks the monotony of the outer body of the building.

In a shameless way, the back facade is fully glazed in order to relate with the green backyard, ensuring the direct relation with the outside.
All the boxes inside get the chance to relate to this facade with the same hierarchy, where all the inner spaces are turned into the same big window.

Therefore, this project is created from three assumptions: the theatricality of the urban facade, the complexity of its use versus its industrial inspiration and the limitations of the plot, that, together, makes this house a complex and unique piece of architecture!