Liebman Villavecchia Arquitectos
FAD 1998 Award – Selected
The house, built in the mid-19th century, had been occupied by a series of tenants in recent years, during which time additions and alterations had been made which had drastically distorted the original structure of simple squarish spaces on either side of a central staircase.
It was built of thick stone walls and a variety of traditional vaulted brick ceilings. The original sitting room on the first floor, with a balcony overlooking the street, had frescoed handkerchief ceilings. The original kitchen/dining room, also on the first floor, was adjacent to a small garden which terraced very steeply to a back street. The top floor had little more than a lookout towards the bay used as a very primitive summer sitting room. The ground floor with a wide arched door to the street was originally a storage space for sea-related artefacts: dinghies, nets, anchors etc. It also contained a water cistern as well as underground wine storage.
In our remodelling scheme particular emphasis was placed on the upper floor, the most luminous level of the house and expansive views, to the east overlooking the bay, and to the west across a landscape of hills and Mount Pení. A new insulated roof was built reusing the old terracotta tiles. The former terrace lookout was removed and a sequence of interrelated living spaces -sitting room, kitchen and dining room- were created around the existing stairwell for which a new skylight was made.
While the street facade was left practically untouched, the garden facade was significantly modified to accommodate a new entry sequence from the high-level back street, through the garden and to the house’s second floor. On the first and second floors two en suite bedrooms were located, the latter of which were originally “alcoves” connected to each main space. The original kitchen on the first floor was turned into a second living area adjacent to the garden. The extensive remodelling of the garden around an existing cypress tree, with planting and stone terracing as well as steel and wooden platforms, makes possible the upper-level entry as well as the interconnection of the different garden levels.
The original house had been “carved” into the stone hillside leaving an existing gap between the building’s stone walls and the natural terrain, allowing for the creation of a new lightwell at the rear of the otherwise dark ground floor. This brick-tile vaulted space was cleared of debris and restored and is the first room encountered upon entering the house from the main street entrance.
Photographer, Michael Moran