Small Big AP
refurbishment of 3 bedroom apartment, Porto, Portugal, 2009

· USE:residential (apartment);
· YEAR:2009-2010
· LOCATION:Boavista, Porto, Portugal;
· PREVIOUSPROGRAM: 3 bedrooms, plus one small room, 3 bathrooms, 1 small kitchen, 1living room:
· NEW PROGRAM:3 bedrooms with bathroom and closet; guest bathroom, open kitchen, living room,work station, laundry;
· AREA: 160m2;
· COST:100.000euros;
· CREATIVE TEAM: Susana Saraiva;
· PHOTOGRAPHY: Bernardo portugal, Susana Saraiva.

I know, we all want to do things from scratch so that all ourintellectual creativity can be set loose, but the truth is, cities are becomingbigger and bigger every day and it is just not environmentally sustainable todemolished all the outdated buildings in the world, even those who seem to haveno architecture value at all.
Wether we are talking about housing our any other function, theneed to convert old buildings into new functions constitutes a currentcontemporary need, and architects must get used to the idea of working withpreexistent buildings, transforming old programs into new ones. But let me beclear, I am not just talking about world heritage classified historic buildings,but of all the ordinary construction that characterizes most of our cities.
Contemporary cities are full of buildings that we consider to haveno value whatsoever but, impossible to be demolished and substituted for newones. It is an impossibility in terms of quantity but also of sustainability.The contemporary culture of use and dismiss can not be extended toconstruction. We must get used to the idea of recycling our constructedheritage. We also must get used to the idea of reorganizing slight recent buildings, because the speed ofchange in contemporary lifestyles is increasing drastically.

This is a project reflects the last situation: a residentialbuilding dating from the end of 1990s, is set on one of the most valuable areasof the city of Porto, Portugal. The client, wants to live in this area, near tohis office and the city economic center, but cant find a place consideredsuitable for its taste and lifestyle.
A coincidence informed him of a vacant apartment in this building:a 3 bedroom apartment, plus one small room, 3 bathrooms, small kitchen, livingarea. The private and public areas are mixed, the internal space, even if withgood area, is very compartmented, seeming quite small. The only rule: theliving area has to face west, the river view.
The client, his girlfriend and their dog want a maximized space,free of unnecessary divisi
What to do when we want to live in a specific part of the city but we cant seem to find nothing suitable? Buildings generally have much higher adaptation abilities that we can imagine. Our cities are living testimonies of that fact but in general common citizens don’t have the ability to see beyond what is present towards them making the tendency to leave buildings as they become obsolete in favor of new, more suitable ones. Usually, the most desirable areas of cities are already taken…
Refurbish a space/building adapted to a new program may be a challenge with various unexpected situations. Demands strictness, construction knowledge, ability to solve problems on site, creativity, but the final result might be overwhelming.
In this case, a 3 bedroom apartment located in a privileged part of the city was becoming a dream as well as a nightmare. Perfect location, magnificent view VS zero spatial quality and functionality. The solution was to remake the entire 160m2 to suit the new owner functional needs and taste.