Casa em Lousado, Porto

Text by Claudia Saraiva

Casa em Lousado, the second house by the Italian-Portuguese atelier Correia/Ragazzi,draws attention with its shape but charms with its details. The clients' brief was clear: utter privacy from the neighbors to the north, total openness to south. The site, on a riverbank, was divided into two levels by an old stone wall, a traditional feature of the landscape in the rural outskirts of Porto, northern Portugal.

Correia/Ragazzi's solution is something of an upside-down bunker sitting atop these two steps - with one floor located on each. The top floor, placed on the north step, is guarded and private. The one below, overlooking the south, is seemingly open. The stone wall was kept, spearing the floorplan and becoming a central feature of the‚ living-room and kitchen on the lower floor.

With the side façades kept blank, Casa em Lousado's top floor has three openings to the north: a concealed front door, a micro-window, and, amusingly, a floor-to-ceiling window of the bathroom in the main suite. Inside, the suite, bedrooms and office all open southwards to protected roof terraces, surrounded by walls that are level with the roof and angle outwards to the south for comfort.

Facing the entrance hall and the stairway are two south-facing wall-to-wall windows, each a storey high and vertically aligned. The upper one, with a restrained view, is the reason for the break in the 'beak' of the south facade - a result of the angled walls of the terraces. The ground floor window is met, on either side, by the windows of the living-room and kitchen - which take up the remaining visible lower story, have glazed walls on two sides, and open up to a generous south-facing deck that runs the length of the house. The openness of the ground floor is shielded from prying eyes by the stone wall and the angled terraces.

The living-room is the most flamboyant room, with windows that can be opened up almost entirely to the garden - including a corner that parts. The one visible pillar half-hidden in the lateral windows is a reminder that the floor above isn't exactly floating on air. While Casa em Lousado isn't quite as audacious as the firm's earlier Casa do Geres, it's nonetheless a welcome - if quirky - addition to Portugal's stock of contemporary houses.

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