Of course the beauty of really good design is that is does not tend to age, but rather remains timeless in its appeal. Case in point is the renovation of this 18th century townhouse wedged between a medieval castle and an old Romanesque cathedral in Lisbon, Portugal. Architect Manuel Aires Mateus was approached by the owners to renovate and extend the ground floor level of the ageing townhouse and add a degree of modernity to the home while also preserving its inherent character.

Aires Mateus chose a simple approach from the outset, that being to retain the old stone floors and work with the original arched openings and pilasters, while injecting a contemporary edge by re-plastering the walls and ceilings and then washing them in white paint. In keeping with the modern day preference for open plan living, the floor plan has been reconfigured so that rooms flow onto one another and are not obstructed or divided by corridors.

The front of the house serves as central hallway with stairs to the upper floors, which in turn has effectively created a u-shape to the home with all of the internal rooms overlooking this central area. At the back of the townhouse a contemporary looking two-story box like structure has been added and connects with the original building in order to create more bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as house the owners home office. This beautiful home, renovated in 2006 is a classic example of how to work in the old with the new.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Ricardo Oliveira Alves

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