Lisbon’s Chiado district is an elegant feast of architecture, designer stores, old theatres and good coffee. Most of the buildings in the area date back to the 1700s; the rest were restored or built by famed architect Alvaro Siza Vieira after fire ravaged the cosmopolitan area in the 1980s. It was a tough gig to work within the scope of an apartment completed by the renowned architect, but rar. studio were ready to take on the ‘difficultly desirable challenge’. They knew the framework didn’t need reworking, turning their focus towards the needs of their client and optimising the architecturally-blessed space.
DESIGN rar. studio | PHOTOGRAPHY Fernando Guerra
The apartment was built in 2004 and is located in the Terracos De Branganca housing project in the historic city centre. When designing this set of buildings, architect Alvaro Size Vieira recognised the responsibility of assimilating the new with the existing by incorporating local inspiration and elements. Like Alvaro Size Vieira, rar. studio knew that the devil was in the details.The firm have followed the exterior approach in the interior and most pertinently in the bathroom, creating a canvas of soft tiling topped with bold stone baths and masonry – just as in the facade. The furnishings are a reflection of the pastel from the old-style buildings that dot Lisbon’s hilly outcrop, soft and gentle. White walls, old gold metallics and rounded edges have created a warm and dreamy atmosphere in an entirely minimal aesthetic – one that has us instantly calmed with one look.
The weight of a Siza Vieira project was met with certain expectations from the client, primarily maximising the space. To this end, rar. studio took out the technical cabinetry in the bathrooms, bedrooms, corridor, living room and the storage room, and concealed it behind the suspended ceiling. This theme of removing and repositioning extended to a new doorway and taking out the wall partitioning the dining room. Behind this decision was the desire for a ‘luminous apartment’ fostering a greater sense of amplitude. The flooring was replaced by lighter, broader wooden planks and the inner doors rescaled to match the height of the windows. Light pertains from the apartment’s westward view into spaces expertly scaled and segmented, namely by the delicate shelf between the living room and corridor. It’s a serene setting, with an exceptional sense of space and a fluidity in freely moving from room to room.
Inside and out, the Apartment AMC is grounded in the quality of its foundations. Closely working to the client’s requirements, rar. studio have enriched this Portugal apartment with a potent sense of place and personalisation. Keeping to a gently minimal approach has not just met the challenge of a reputable site, but exceeded it in all respects.
‘The floor tiling and stone patterns stand out as protagonists against the smooth and homogenous coloured surfaces – in colour block –, like the coloured blocks of Terracos de Braganca.’
— rar. studio