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Leopold Banchini et Daniel Zamarbide: Dodge House

In the old center of Lisbon (Portugal), the Dodge House would go almost unnoticed ... And yet. It is behind an intact facade, witness of the architectural heritage of the district of Mouraria, that reveals a humble house with singular proportions, work of architects Leopold Banchini and Daniel Zamarbide.

Mouraria, Lisbon. This historic center has seen its popularity grow since the last restoration and rehabilitation campaign. A patchwork of facades and colorful ruins, made of bricks, concrete, frescoes or azulejos that has transformed its former shanty reputation into an authentic architectural entanglement in the city. The latter, however, faces a limited and tight real estate market, which requires architects to deal with a lot of dense and narrow housing, all with little means.

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It is behind one of these restored facades that hides the modest - but nevertheless inspiring - Dodge House. Based on 4 levels of less than 40 square meters each, the residence built by the two architects of the project, Leopold Banchini and Daniel Zamarbide, retains an intact and unobtrusive exterior to reveal a clever interior composition, a modernity inspired by Irving Gill, a American architect, pioneer in rational and minimal design, and occupied by social causes.
With the medium economy as the conducting line, the project managers use local materials in the construction of the project. The designers chose to exploit the structural strength of the building, keeping a ceiling at full height in the living room. It communicates directly with the three rooms - one per floor - arranged in open mezzanines, generously exploiting the lack of space in the house of 94 square meters.

The wall facing street must deal with an opaque and closed front, which echoes the choice of architects to bet on a less commercial function of the building. That is why the openings are arranged with as much intelligence on the two exploitable facades of the project: facing the courtyard, a large swiveling bay window overlooking the living space, as well as arched windows; and on the horizontal surfaces, gaps bring a zenithal light in the rooms. The interior space, a mixture of white bricks and concrete, dressed in marble thanks to the furniture, retains a minimalist identity in both noble and rough tones.

The realization communicates the complexity of the building with a simple and untied reading of an unobvious volume. She responds with skill to the challenges presented by the Portuguese architectural context. A good example of ingenuity.

To learn more, visit the site of Leopold Banchini

Photographs: Dylan Perrenoud

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