Cutouts and Heightened Ceilings Revive a Portuguese Apartment

Cutouts and Heightened Ceilings Revive a Portuguese Apartment

By Tess Holland
This renovated apartment in Lisbon counteracts an outdated 19th-century floor plan with simple, but clever interventions.

Approaching their newest project, Lisbon-based firm Aurora Arquitectos, considered one question: how do you counteract the architectural downsides of a gaioleiro building? 

In Portuguese, gaioleiro translates to "bird cage." A response to a rapidly growing population, this mid 19th-century building plan lacked adequate space and ventilation. Aurora Arquitectos solved this dated layout problem by "opening windows between spaces, promoting cross-visions, and letting the light in," says the firm.   

The architects stripped away layers of material in the walls and floors of the apartment to reveal the original bones of the building. Interested in maintaining aspects of the old floor plan that worked, they chose to preserve the long narrow hallway, but added ceiling height, expanded the kitchen, and reoriented the rooms around window views. Thanks to these interventions, the apartment now feels comfortable and contemporary.  

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