A Braga au Portugal, L’architecte Tiago Do Vale vient de finaliser la réhabilitation de cette petite habitation sur trois étages datant du XIXème siècle. "Three Cups Chalet" s’apparente à un chalet minimaliste au cœur de la ville, un bâtiment traité comme un loft avec des espaces ouverts au maximum pour favoriser l’apport lumineux.

Le bâtiment aux accents sud-américain souligne l'influence qu’à eu la culture brésilienne sur l'architecture portugaise du 19ème siècle. Avec des proportions étroites, de hautes fenêtres, des toits en pente et son avant-toit décoré, cette habitation intègre tous les codes de cette époque. De part son intérêt historique, l’architecte a souhaité conserver au maximum l’identité du bâtiment tout en clarifiant les espaces et les fonctions.
Ainsi, le degré d'intimité grandit à mesure que l'on monte l'escalier dans ce volume qui mise sur la transparence et la transversalité des espaces. Epuré, l’intérieur retrouve de la chaleur au dernier étage, le plancher de bois est laissé naturel, tandis que la salle de bain intégralement en marbre apporte une touche de minéralité.

Sur ce projet, l’architecte Tiago do Vale précise :

"Even as we visited it for the first time it became quite apparent what this building was desperately asking for. On one hand, it had to be free from all the gratuitous add-ons that suffocated it and compromised the clarity and logic of its original spaces. And on the other hand (even if it is, in many ways, a symptom of the same malady) to allow light to permeate its spaces. Darkness ended up as the ultimate consequence of the systematic compartmentalization that the building was subjected to. We needed to maximize both transparency and light to allow it to breathe.

The building's original typology, typical of the eight-hundreds -and considering that the building was already designed with flexibility of use in mind- is, in itself, quite permissive and open, fit to answer almost any kind or architectural program.

Being so we never thought of another path besides being faithful to the building's original nature, as much on its architecture as on its technical solutions and spacial and programatic distribution.

We recovered nor only the original materials but also the original uses of each space. And even when we introduced new materials such as the Estremoz marble, we did it with the criteria of it being right for the building nature and historic context.

In this particular case, time wasn't generous with it [the building].

Sometimes an architect finds himself divided, trying to respond to the challenges of a requalification, seduced between the conceptual honesty of a strict, blind restoration and the conceptually dishonest freedom to lie a little bit about it, to make way for the project to go a bit further on any particular matter.

As always, the best compromise lay in between both extremes, informed by them both: a strict, blind restoration can produce a beautiful and interesting architectural object, but something has to give so that the building is able to respond to the requests of the contemporary way of living. The way we live has changed dramatically over the last 120 years. That response is, in the end, a building's ultimate mission (and the life it breathes).

When the passing of time is generous, it qualifies and values a building, adding to its original qualities and taking note of it's path through time. It shows how the way we relate with our homes (the way we live them) steadily changes and evolves, which is enormously enriching and a marvelous architectural experience.

So, returning to this particular case, we tried to commit the tender dishonesty of offering this building a happier story, with a more generous path than the one it actually suffered. We recovered and highlighted its very interesting original characteristics while introducing elements and ideas that could transport, step by step, this home from its foundation times to the present day, perfectly adjusted to the contemporary ways of life.

At it most basic, our option was to reclaim the original intent and conditions of the building but with the (fundamental) subtlety of providing an added something beyond a blind restoration. Something that could return the building to a function, to a use (whereby people could inhabit it and live a life of genuine quality), to present day, to the street, to the city, and with enough flexibility to keep it going for an extra 120 years.

This is a delicate matter, though, as function, use, people, streets, cities are all things that relentlessly, unforgivingly, keep changing the way they relate with their built surroundings."

Photographies : João Morgado 

Pour en savoir plus, visitez le site de Tiago do Vale Architects.  

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