Year – 2016
Direct Consultation - Private client
Location – Rua Presidente Arriaga, Lisbon, Portugal
Area – 145,25 sq.m
Budget – undisclosed
Status – built
ARRIAGA is a spatial conception built using architectural reasoning which does not resort to or to be more precise tries to avoid intermediation processes. Thus, ARRIAGA is not an architectural “project” in its classic form. It is within the scope of Architecture because of its principles and its results and not as a result of the production processes which eventually lead to the final form.
Everything that creates a ritual distance between the user and the object of its attention we consider civilized. The grade of civilization is therefore measured by that distance and by the number and complexity of tools necessary to reach the final object. Take food, as an example, it would be considered barbaric to eat with our hands and yet extremely civilized to go to a restaurant and be presented with 5 different forks – one for each course. The problem is that there is a moment when civilization is no longer in existence and the only fetish exists – a moment when we are no longer tasting the wine but our conscience is focused solely on drinking it from the appropriate glass. Such fetishisms naturally develop in areas of extreme exquisite research, and it is, therefore, a common feature in architecture.
ARRIAGA tries to challenge this situation by taking advantage of a very particular set of circumstances, the coincidence whereby the Author and the Owner are one and the same.
This work was carried out according to an Action-Research methodology, abdicating from the usual intermediate productive processes (such as drawing, technical drawings, 3D simulations, models, etc.) in favor of direct manipulation of materials and spatial limits. The decisions were made on the site, through the user’s physical experience of the site.
In a building thought to be pre-1840, we discovered a highly fragmented labyrinthine apartment. It lacked proportion and consisted of spaces devoid of natural light. Our main aim was to select and focus on the element of the apartment that was of the utmost importance, providing light, ventilation, and scale to this element, and recycling the remainder, using it to support the central feature.
A glass curtain now opens onto a patio that had previously been closed up, the main room features raised ceilings, while the ancient interior walls have been opened up to create mezzanine floors. Pieces of original furniture have been repurposed as architectural elements and the previously unnoticed stones have been highlighted as features in the garden.
The result is an atypical rehabilitation, which ironically does not reject either the traditional “typologies” or the existing material panoply. ARRIAGA is a mannerist operation gaining control over an existing space.