Apartment No. 6
Príncipe Real

A collective housing building from the 18th century isn't easily adapted to the needs and expectations of modern life. Perhaps for that reason, adaptations are very often intrusive and indifferent to the construction and the character of the original building. When our clients asked us to change their bathrooms without touching the rest of the apartment, we understood that we had to deal with the relationship between old – thick, honest walls – and new – hollow, services-filled walls – with care.

Instead of incorporating new spaces in the old ones – e.g. disguising transitions through clever detailing – we though it better to detach the bathrooms from the apartment, as if we subtracted their volume from the group of spaces that we perceive as home. Seen from the apartment's entrance, the hall leading to the bathrooms seems like a light installation, framed and hung by the end of the corridor, without any use beyond the creation of an unusual moment: the gratifying presence of light and colour in an otherwise gloomy corridor. The hall, conceived as a space beyond the architectural space, frees the new bathrooms from any relationship with the apartment, which we are not touching.

The bathroom interiors follow the perceptive composition of spaces of a much less prosaic purpose and atmosphere. We've done it because – despite the taps and the sanitary ware – we wanted these spaces to have the same enigmatic dignity as the hall.

Despite it being our smallest project to date – 13 m2 only – it allowed us to deepen themes that we have been exploring in bigger and more complicated projects, such as the sensitive combination of natural and artificial light and the idea of typological transgression.

Title Apartment No. 6 — Príncipe Real
Location Lisbon, Portugal
Built Area 15 m²
Site Area 175 m²
Conclusion 2016
Team Vasco Matias Correia, Patrícia Ferreira de Sousa and Sebastien Alfaiate
Photography Nelson Garrido