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.
“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
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.
“[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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!