An 18th-Century Portuguese Home Morphs Into a Series of Colorful Apartments

Each unit is layered with a mix of eye-catching details, including patterned mosaics and a moody mermaid painting on the bathroom ceiling.
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The dusty-pink facade of the Rose Building provides very few hints about the eclectic charms that await inside. For Sérgio Antunes, cofounder of Lisbon-based Aurora Arquitectos, this juxtaposition provided a fascinating starting point for the renovation of the 18th-century structure, which is located in Vila Real de Santo António, a city in Portugal’s southern Algarve region.

The Rose Building’s distinctive—and downright clever—original elements "gave it personality and character," Antunes says. "It was this diversity that we wanted to take advantage of," he explains about the renovation, which the team at Aurora Arquitectos completed in collaboration with Lisbon-based architecture studio, FURO.

What was once a single-family residence now comprises five different apartments, all of which are defined by distinct palettes that bring together dreamy, chromatic combinations. In one unit, for example, deep-coral furnishings pop against a backdrop of sky-blue walls. 

Inspired by "the characteristics of each original area of the building," the teams tried to create a dialogue with the pre-existing architecture—"sometimes by continuity, other times by contrast," says Antunes, who notes how challenging it was to work with the original infrastructure.

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Throughout each living space, rich details are abundant. A moody portrait of a woman crowns the winding central staircase, and in one bathroom, another ceiling artwork depicts a mermaid emerging from swirling waves. 

Arched windows, sloped ceilings, ornate moldings, and wooden doors elegantly play off of the patterned ceramic tiles that adorn various spaces, as well as Portuguese marble and limestone.

Capitalizing on a city code that allowed the architects to construct a modern addition, the teams unveiled an all-new structure, the Mustard Building, at the back of the site. Capped with a swimming pool and terrace, the Mustard Building’s interiors flaunt more subdued tones that blend cream terrazzo with wood partitions, which are painted in a pink gradient to honor the Rose Building’s past.

Related Reading:

A Rehabbed Stone House in Portugal Sports a New Steel Annex

A Renovated Apartment in an 18th-Century Sicilian Building Pays Homage to the Sea

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Aurora Arquitectos / @auroraarquitectos and FURO /  @furo_architecturestudio

Builder/General Contractor: Francisco Rodrigues, Cervimat

Engineering Consultants: Iperplano

Photography: Do Mal o Menos / @domalomenos

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