In the second half of the 19th century Portugal saw the return of a large number of emigrants from Brazil. While returning to their northern roots, specially in the Douro and Minho regions, they brought with them sizable fortunes made in trade and industry, born of the economic boom and cultural melting pot of the 19th century Brazil. With them came a culture and cosmopolitanism that was quite unheard of in the Portugal of the eighteen-hundreds.
The “Three Cusps Chalet” by Tiago do Vale Architects is a clear example of the Brazilian influence over Portuguese architecture during the 19th century, though it’s also a singular case in this particular context.
Right as the Dom Frei Caetano Brandão Street was opened, a small palace was being built in the corner with the Cathedral’s square and thanks to large amounts of Brazilian money. It boasted high-ceilings, rich frescos, complex stonework, stucco reliefs and exotic timber carpentry. In deference to such noble spaces, the kitchen, laundry, larders and personnel quarters, which were usually hidden away in basements and attics, were now placed within one contiguous building, of spartan, common construction.
Built according to the devised model of an alpine chalet, so popular in 19th century Brazil (with narrow proportions, tall windows, pitched roofs and decorated eaves), the “Three Cusps Chalet” was that one building.
Due to the confluence of such particular circumstances it’s quite likely the only example of a common, spartan, 19th century building of Brazilian ancestry in Portugal.
Siting at the heart of both the Roman and medieval walls of Braga, a stone’s throw away from Braga’s Cathedral (one of the most historically significant of the Iberian Peninsula) this is a particularly sunny building with two fronts, one facing the street at West and another one, facing a delightful, qualified block interior plaza at East, enjoying natural light all day long.
The nature of each floor changes from public to private as we climb from the store at the street level to a living room (West) and kitchen (East) at the first floor, with the sleeping quarters on top. Materials-wise, all of the stonework and the peripheral supportive walls are built with local yellow granite, while the floors and roof are executed with wooden beams with hardwood flooring. Photography by Joao Morgado.