A Small Brutalist Gem Shines in Porto

The first step in the renovation consisted of creating a small patio, landscaped with both stones and plants, to add an inviting outdoor space where previously there hadn’t been one. As he cleared the land, he realized that the rock on the lot was immense, and that it was overlooked by a beautiful dry-stone wall that supports the higher ground behind the house (which is located by an old granite quarry which once supplied the stones for the church next door).

The building was originally a typical worker’s residence, in a style common in Porto in the 19th century. François kept the existing massing of the building, changing neither the roof nor the facade. It includes an external passageway, or alley, that leads from the street to the rear of the lot. A former owner had it roofed in and closed on the street side adding about 650 square feet to the area of the home.

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The kitchen overlooks the street. Its variety of materials and textures—white walls, Portuguese marble, granite, and concrete installations—creates an interesting composition with the concrete ceiling beams.

Photos : Lucile Casanova / Styling : Marion Di Rodi

To bring light into the heart of the house, a brick wall overlooking the patio has been replaced by a large concrete frame. Set within it, a large sliding glass door allows access to the outside. François created a threshold with the outside world by installing a concrete bench in front of the window. This visually extends the small garden and becomes a space where someone can sit, recline, or chat with a friend while, at the same time, it completely reorganizes the flow of the larger room.

Another highlight is the wall on the side of the former alleyway. “It’s not made of brick but of granite, which was uncovered beneath several inches of tiles and cement,” François says. What followed was an “almost archeological” excavation to preserve it and reveal “the soul of the house.” Stripped down to its original state, the wall was then restored using traditional methods, with small stones wedged between larger ones and the joints repaired with a mixture of lime and clay that would have been used in the past.

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