Perhaps the most important aspect of this project is the desire to refer to the city within the city—interior areas formed by the street, square and block. There are many such places in Lisbon—recent or old, shaded or open to the sky, but always very impenetrable. This other city is often abandoned and unhealthy, but it can be redeemed to become another network of places—in a way overlaying a mesh that can regenerate the fabric of the city.
This empty space was prominent in relation to the existing buildings; the vertical form of their facades suggested a contrasting, very horizontal house. Therefore we built with very regular and hierarchical spaces, voids around which the required spaces for living gather. A first, more public, courtyard receives people and distributes them to the two houses, and then inside each house one walks between courtyards and gardens. Some of these are more contemplative while others are more there to be used. Trees will grow, projecting scale as time passes.
Almost obsessively the houses are built using exposed reinforced concrete. Boundaries will be covered with climbing plants (naturally variable elements) while the roof and other walls stay as they are, simultaneously powerful and delicate to stand up to the pressures of the surroundings. The spaces provide an illusion of positive/negative tension, closed and open construction that organizes space. The windows with modular steel frames are narrow where filtering of light is wanted but larger if a generous size is warranted. On arrival one comes in through a yellow entrance, a mark and sign of entering a house.
Two Houses In Santa Isabel
Collaboration: Ana Durão, Nuno Costa
Contractor: 686 Construções
Consultants: F&C (Landscape), Gonçalves Pereira (Foundations, Structural engineering, Electrics, Communications, Security and Hydraulics), Natural Works (Mechanics, thermal and Acoustics)
Areas: 560 m2 construction area
Cost: 1.500.000 €