At number eighteen Rua da Oliveira ao Carmo in Lisbon, the ninety square metres ground-floor right flat enjoys the use of the building’s inner yard, a patio with a very pronounced vertical axis. In the late 1980s, this flat underwent an intervention, which not only stripped the interior of its character – converting it into a more open space concept – but also substantially reduced the size of the patio, which no longer provided the flat with sufficient light, making it dark and sombre. In this new operation, the intention is to reconstitute the original compartment plan of the flat and, most importantly, to free the patio of constructions.
The patio walls at the ground level are now covered with mosaic tiles, and a table and portable chairs have been added along with movable light that can be hung at various fixed points, revealing that this space does not simply consist of a scenic setting but also represents a lived-in space. In one of the corners, a large flowerpot with a ficus repens has been placed, which over time is expected to grow heartily, climbing up the white walls of the upper floors. The relationship between the kitchen and living room areas with this open-air space is enhanced by windows of ample size which, whether closed (and featuring hidden iron frames), or open (and turned 180º on their rotating axis), will extend the interior, creating a more continuous space. This vertical void has thus come to constitute the principal space of the house – one of silence that offers an alternative to the hustle and bustle of the city.