A rehab in Porto shows that social housing also deserves “jaw-dropping” views


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Next to the Miradouro da Vitória, social housing apartments with picture-postcard windows have been reborn by MAVAAarchitects.

In the historic center of Porto, near the Miradouro da Vitória, there is a building built between 1989 and 1991 that has gained a new life. Inserted in the landscape, with “jaw-dropping” views, a structure has been reborn that shows that social housing can be dignified, have quality, and, yes, exist in the city center.

Signed by MAVAA architects, based in Porto, the project reconverted the two upper floors, which were already housing, and the lower floor, “where there were washrooms and showers for the population” into four apartments (already contracted to families, with supported rents that can vary between 28 and 240 euros), which will be open this weekend, on the occasion of Open House Porto. “This space was all closed and quitevandalized”, says Carlos Machado e Moura – until it reached the hands ofthis atelier that won the municipality’sb contest.

“This challenge, of keeping the building as social housing, seemed interesting to us from the start.

Because what has happened is that, in these more premium areas, [housing] ends up passing to other sectors,” says the architect. “The idea of having, in the center, a building with these views and very visible, of using this opportunity to show that social housing can also be this – and not just construction with shoddy materials and in very peripheral places – seemed like a great excuse to do architecture.”

With a total budget of 400 thousand euros, the rehabilitation was designed “from the inside out and the outside in”: to take advantage of the”magnificent views that the building already had and create more comfortable living conditions”. “We added the living rooms and kitchens in order to have a larger space. On the lower floors, for example, we transformed the laundry area and it became a onebedroom apartment, with a ceiling height of almost four meters,” describes Carlos Machado e Moura.

And details were added that confer, at the very least, quality of life: a horizontal window from where you can see the Cathedral, another positioned so that “whoever is lying in bed can see the river”; marblekitchens; granite exterior; hand-made tiles; a pillar that already existed, but has been transformed into “a detail of some plastic quality”.

From the description, we could be talking about another local accommodation. But no. It is really a house for people to live in.

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