17th-century dwellings become modern apartments.

Clínica de Arquitectura’s Caldeireiros Houses project began with the refurbishment of a residential building from the 17th-century. Located in the center of Porto, Portugal, the three-story building featured several apartments as well as a complex terrace system on different levels. Added to the project during different stages, the adjoining building and another smaller structure from the courtyard expanded the initial design. At the same time, the new additions provided more opportunities to create a dialogue between separate areas. In the end, Caldeireiros Houses comprises a shop and a pre-existing restaurant as well as the focus of the project, six small apartments. These range from the two compact studios to the two one-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom duplexes.

Initially covered by insalubrious, partially destroyed shacks, the courtyard became the center of the project. The studio cleared the rest of the structures and unveiled a large space where residents can gather. This outdoor space also provides easy access to the dwellings, via stairs and terraces. The team rebuilt the rear facades of the two buildings, drawing inspiration from the designs of 19th-century Porto houses. As a result, the project allowed the inclusion of a new lift and access balconies.

The homes have a simple layout. Now, they also feature a clever use of space. The studio maximized the compact interiors to make the most of the dwellings. Hidden storage areas allow the rooms to look airy and minimal while enhancing convenience. Apart from the restrained design, the intervention also takes advantage of the rich textures and charm of the old interiors. All of the wood and stone elements still in good condition remained, linking the apartments to the building’s history. The wooden surfaces are unfinished, while the stone walls boast a lime mortar coating that highlights their character. Photographs© Alexandre Delmar.

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