The existing house is part of a mostly residential area near the Botanical Garden of Coimbra. The existing building, a house from the early 20th century, was originally composed of four independent apartments.
The proposed program provides for the conversion of the building into a single-family housing.
The advanced state of degradation of the original structure, the poor build quality of the ground floor and the inadequate size of the interior spaces defined the basic principle of intervention: the maintenance and restoration of the facades and roof while maintaining the existing volume, and the demolition and consequent redesign of the whole interior of the building.
The new spatial organization is marked by the introduction of a central longitudinal body, set from two structural walls, housing the stairs, toilets, service, storage and support spaces on floors 0 and -1 and circulation on the 1st floor.
The living areas are distributed over the entrance level, related to the kitchen, and the lower floor, closely related with the exterior spaces of the house.
The first floor comprises the bedrooms, dressing area and toilet facilities complemented with a living area in the attic. It is anticipated that the attic space will be occupied with informal areas for study and work. The attic level also contains a technical area and some storage space.
In floor -1, one can find the laundry areas, storage, kitchen support to the living room, an outdoor technical area and the garage which is accessed via a platform lift located on the north side, almost unnoticeable from the outside.
The preservation of the exterior openings, painted wooden window frames with single glazing was crucial in maintaining the original façade, with the thermal and acoustic issues addressed by introducing an almost imperceptible sliding window. The design of the new elements preserves the aspect of the original frames.
Knotless solid wood Riga pine flooring was designed to fit the spaces, openings, passages and circulation areas. The width of the planks varies between 20 and 30 cm, with lengths matching the full size of the spaces. A simple design, reduced to the essential, is patent on the fixed furniture, kitchen furniture and sanitary facilities.
There was a preoccupation to maintain a connection in the aspect of the different floors and spaces and to ensure zenith light reached all interior spaces. Examples of this are the openings of the stairs to the living room in floor 0 and circulation to the living area in floor -1; the openings between the two rooms and skylights in the stairs to access the attic; and the circulation areas in the floor with the rooms. A round skylight was included in the attic as a way to revisit a type of original opening that was originally present on the different floors and housing spaces.
New openings in the basement floor are set in close relationship with the garden, and reinforce the idea of thick stone masonry walls, typical of a house with these features. The openings are terminated with shutters on the outside wall, with a plaster finish identical to that used in the facades.
Finally, the walls on the property boundary were restored maintaining the original coatings, stone finishing and metal elements. On the inside, a single continuous bed for plants was created to ensure the privacy of the outdoor spaces and housing. Several trees were planted in locations determined with reference to the interior spaces of the house.
In the garden, in the south-facing part of the house, a stone-covered patio was created and a long bench was built, associated with one of the trees.