The “Redondo” is the last of a row of four buildings built at the beginning of the 20th century in the center of Coimbra, Portugal. Its cylindrical shape responds to the oblique cross between two streets, and gives the building a certain singularity and its name. The original organization in two independent houses, an apartment on the ground floor and a house with two floors and garret on the upper levels, was maintained. The original layouts were very fragmented: several small rooms around a large hall. Their high ceilings conferred the inside space a characteristic sense of verticality.
The intervention by branco-del rio (João Branco + Paula del Río) was based on four operations. First, through a series of precise cuts on the walls connecting the vertical ones, the horizontal space was introduced, whereas the original room proportions were kept readable on the ceilings. The resulting space is the sequence of the original ones, with its rhythms of windows, doors, details, lights and shadows.
Secondly, all the infrastructures were integrated and hidden to maintain the original character of space. The result gives the feeling that nothing was changed. Then, all the practical functions were solved with a series of free standing pieces of furniture. The reduced materiality of all these objects (built on oak and sucupira wood) give the whole a certain unity and balance.
And lastly, on the original garret, the elimination of a whole roof plane created an uncovered patio. An ambiguous space between inside and outside, open and private, with a beautiful view of the city.
Design and info © branco-del rio (João Branco + Paula del Río)
Images © do mal o menos