Casa da Hermínia.

Refurbishment of an apartment in Porto, PT.

April 2020,

First Building Permission 10.12.1969

6 Floors: Basement, Ground floor, 3 regular Floors with balconies and one step-back floor with a terrace.

Casa da Herminia is in the city centre of Porto. The apartment is situated on the 3rd Floor and oriented east-south and west-north, opening with room-height windows to guarantee a light flooded living space. The traditional room division was a point that had to be reorganized, to create a more open space in this 80 m2 Apartment. The initial idea was to open the kitchen to the living room for a better communication and interaction. The Kitchen had also to be merged with the adjacent storage room. In that way, the second bathroom had to give its space for the new storage of the house.

When it came to material composition, it was quite clear from the beginning, while entering the building. Beautiful tiles from 1960s on the walls paired so well with the light beige Terrazzo, accentuated with black marble stone grains, climbing the steps to the upper floors. Terrazzo is called “Marmorite” in local builders’ language and has a long tradition in Portuguese households. Due to its state and aesthetically perfect aspect after 50 years of use, we knew it would be the right and durable material for the wet surfaces of the apartment. “Marmorite” is very close to the Italian Terrazzo in its way of crafting but slightly different in its ingredients.

The Floor surfaces of the living areas were preserved in the original parquet and recovered where needed. The floors of the “wet” rooms composed of the bathroom, kitchen and balcony were made from locally poured and polished “Marmorite” consisting of white Portland cement and the aggregates 16:1 ratio of local “Estremoz” marble with an accent of “Ruivina”.

For the kitchen furniture, we considered using the same material namely “Marmorite” on the Kitchen top than on the floors, in a different size of aggregate. The “handles” were hand-made by Sr. Ribeiro, a local craftsman who works in his austere atelier in Rio Tinto a suburb of Porto. The wooden frames of the balcony doors and windows were made by a local carpenter using “câmbala escura” as the already existing door frames and skirting and the same door handles were applied, as on the kitchen furniture.

This apartment was imagined as a renewal, emphasizing the apartment’s quirks and lending voice to careful craftsmanship.

Function: Housing - Refurbishment
Area: 82m2

Design by Alban Wagener Architecture
Photography by Alexandre Delmar


Kitchen elevation

Kitchen axonometry

Selected ingredients for the marmorite.

Selected stone for threshold.

Castform for the kitchen top.

Controlling the appliances

Manufacturing the door handles

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