The crisis that hit Portugal ten years ago has produced an incredible density of abandoned spaces. The two main cities, Porto and Lisbon, offered a landscape of ruins and closed buildings that charmed an international community looking for a southern romanticism. Since then the two cities have acted and reacted to renew their historical centers and a good quantity of these abandoned houses have been renovated with a general undeniable quality, probably due to the sensitive and cultivated approach of Portuguese architects in general.
This landscape of closed buildings was featured by numerous opaque facades, hiding the interiors as if the life of those buildings had disappeared or was in a frozen state, waiting for better times to open the windows again and let the sunshine in. The Dodged House in Lisbon by Daniel Zamarbide and Leopold Banchini pays a double tribute. On one hand to Irving Gill’s architecture. The very particular modernity that he established as the basis of his practice seems to perfectly echo the Portuguese context (the same way as Gill’s architecture was understood to develop from the Missions in California).
On the other hand, as a trace of the time in which the Dodged house was designed and built, it has preferred to keep her eyes closed and opaque façade and has bet on a less marketable feature, space, void, interior volume that refuses efficiency of land use. Within a rather small plot (around 40 m2 ground floor, 94 m2 in total) the Dodged house has privileged a strong section and a contemplative void, proposing a diversity of interior-exterior spaces that extend into a courtyard.
The three bedrooms develop on four superposed floors. Low-cost construction techniques and simple materials are specifically chosen to build an affordable dwelling. Locally sourced tiles and stones are used for the furniture, walls, and floors. The rough cement blocks used for the shell meet custom made simple metal work. The section in steps generates a generous full height living space in the small volume, in direct communication with all the floors. Towards the street, the pre-existing historical façade is left as found; a reminder of Lisbon’s fast-changing city center.
Evidently, the project responds as well to a complexity of functional requirements that has turned the house into a “machine à habiter”, playing again, quite deliberately and strongly with the history of modernism and its inhabitable typologies.