Fala Atelier Home Tour: Sao Bras House Porto | NONAGON.style
When Abstract Minimalism Meets 19th Century Heritage with Fala Atelier

When Abstract Minimalism Meets 19th Century Heritage with Fala Atelier

An unexpectedly bold design statement

Written by –
Jess Ng
on May 23rd 2019
Born and raised in the UK, Jess is NONAGON’s resident historian turned marketer turned writer, drawn to Hong Kong by the lure of dim sum breakfasts and bustling city life. A foodie who loves to cook, food occupies 70% of her brain 90% of the time. When not eating, Jess can typically be found buried in a book or obsessing over making NONAGON’s Instagram #feedgoals.

Sao Bras House


Given the heritage nature of the lofty 19th century Sao Bras House, a stark white interior in the vein of abstract minimalism stands as an unexpectedly bold design statement. Complete with that signature blue door accent, it can only be the work of Portuguese architecture studio Fala Atelier. Keep scrolling for the full tour.

Minimalist architectural drawing illustration by Portuguese design studio Fala Atelier | NONAGON.style

“The project pursued a certain sense of an absolute order: the existing wooden structure was replaced with concrete and the geometry of the plan defined a new spatial grid.” – Fala Atelier

Exterior facade of the Sao Bras House designed by Fala Atelier featuring simple white tiles, Juliet balcony and blue and pink doors | NONAGON.style

Take It Outside

Located along a narrow alley deep within the sunny city of Porto, the Sao Bras House exudes character and charm. Simple white tiles and a decorative Juliet balcony courteously reference the property’s history. Yet the addition of two brightly colored pink and blue doors belie the interior surprises to come.

Exterior facade of the Fala Atelier designed Sao Bras House featuring painted minimalist wall mural | NONAGON.style

“[One of the greatest difficulties involved] building in a limiting heritage scenario. It’s quite hard to operate in UNESCO areas. The “forced preservation” policies are an issue.” – Filipe Magalhaes, Architect

Backyard exterior of the Sao Bras House designed by Fala Atelier featuring graphic sculpture detail and blue wall | NONAGON.style

Each of the property’s exterior elevations is uniquely beautiful. Towards the side of the home, a wall mural featuring three painted lines reflect the interior structural composition. Meanwhile in the backyard, the non-figurative garden facade is composed of two square windows and a proud rain pipe within a nonconformist silhouette.

Stark white minimalist interior of the Sao Bras House by Fala Atelier featuring blue door and gray concrete column | NONAGON.style

Fifth Column

Inside, every main room is conceived as a white perimeter punctuated with a concrete column in the very center. “In a good and bad way, the columns indeed absorbed all the love and hate from everyone,” shares Magalhaes. “One can’t ignore their attitude.”

Stark white minimalist interior of the Sao Bras House by Fala Atelier with gray concrete column and hanging light detail | NONAGON.style

Though not structurally necessary, the columns add a striking focal point to each space in the style of Japanese architect Kazuo Shinohara, whom Magalhaes cites as a firm source of inspiration. The effect is one of grandeur, especially when set against a simple, unadorned minimalist backdrop.

Stark white minimalist interior of the Sao Bras House by Fala Atelier featuring blue and white tiling and architectural gray concrete column | NONAGON.style

Blast From The Past

Simplicity is key in the Sao Bras house. There’s an order to this austere aesthetic – every object has its place. Graphic forms and a clash of textures call back to 80s Memphis design. “The exercise in materiality, bringing together wood, concrete, tiles and marble, seamless surfaces and patterns, felt necessary,” clarifies Magalhaes.

Minimalist bathroom design by Fala Atelier featuring white tiles, round mirror, stainless steel sink and lots of plant details | NONAGON.style

Elsewhere, four triangular shaped bathrooms further subvert the tenets of a classical layout. Here, a marble counter adds a touch of luxe to the clinical tiling and stainless steel sink. Indoor plants are a must for infusing the space with soul.

Minimalist white staircase designed by Fala Atelier with marble flooring and grid fencing | NONAGON.style

Final Thoughts

Overall, there’s no denying that the Sao Bras house embodies daring in design. But what was the reaction of the owners who have to navigate this abstract minimalist concept? “They were quite happy about the result,” reveals Magalhaes. “Intrigued with the spatial organisation, but curious to experiment [with] it.” Let’s just hope they’ve Marie Kondo’d their belongings before moving in!

For more by Fala Atelier, check out the beautiful Curved Wall project. Also make sure you take a peek at their Directory page!


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