Small Big AP - apartment refurbishment, Porto, Portugal, 2009
USE: residential apartment
PROGRAM: 3 bedrooms with bathroom and closet; guest bathroom, open kitchen, living room, work station, laundry
CREATIVE TEAM: Susana Saraiva - architecture; Bernardo Portugal - photography
I know, we all want to do things from scratch so that all our intellectual creativity can be set loose, but the truth is, cities are becoming bigger and bigger every day and it is just not environmentally sustainable to demolished all the outdated buildings in the world, even those who seem to have no architecture value at all.
Wether we are talking about housing our any other function, the need to convert old buildings into new functions constitutes a current contemporary need, and architects must get used to the idea of working with preexistent buildings, transforming old programs into new ones. But let me be clear, I am not just talking about world heritage classified historic buildings, but of all the ordinary construction that characterizes most of our cities.
Contemporary cities are full of buildings that we consider to have no value whatsoever but, impossible to be demolished and substituted for new ones. It is an impossibility in terms of quantity but also of sustainability. The contemporary culture of use and dismiss can not be extended to construction. We must get used to the idea of recycling our constructed heritage. We also must get used to the idea of reorganizing slight recent buildings, because the speed of change in contemporary lifestyles is increasing drastically.
This is a project reflects the last situation: a residential building dating from the end of 1990s, is set on one of the most valuable areas of the city of Porto, Portugal. The client, wants to live in this area, near to his office and the city economic center, but cant find a place considered suitable for its taste and lifestyle.
A coincidence informed him of a vacant apartment in this building: a 3 bedroom apartment, plus one small room, 3 bathrooms, small kitchen, living area. The private and public areas are mixed, the internal space, even if with good area, is very compartmented, seeming quite small. The only rule: the living area has to face west, the river view.
The client, his girlfriend and their dog want a maximized space, free of unnecessary divisions, appropriated for receiving friends and having formal and informal gatherings. They still want 3 rooms.
The proposal clarifies the division between public and private areas. The public space is completely open, capable of being partially enclosed if some privacy is needed but mainly open. The bedrooms are conceived as independent units: each bedroom has is one closet and bathroom. This way, there is no need for unnecessary corridors: as you leave your bedroom your in the public space. The end result is a completely different space experience even if the shell remains. SAME USE, DIFFERENT PROGRAM.
Location: Porto, PT