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Trofa, Porto, Portugal


author  NOARQ – José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira  program  multi-functional convertible garden pavilion   collaborators  arch. Diana Fernandes, arch. Joana Pinto  structural project  GEPEC –  eng. Afonso Neve  hydraulic project  GEPEC – eng. Jorge Martins  technical advice GET – eng. Raul Bessa  contractors Irmãos Maia Lda com Antolisá Carpintaria; Carpicunha; serralharia Castro Sousa; Serralharia João Lima; Marques electricista; Marsousa; Graminho; Trata e Rega jardins; Giovanni di Pietro saunas   photography  Patrick Monteiro  intervention area  336 m²




An emergency: to expand a garden structure to host a family wed-ding party that was going to be held in four months' time. The challenge was not promising. The purpose was weak.

Meanwhile, the client bought the plot at the back of the annexe. The new plot extended the road frontage; the project would have a new front. The neighbouring structures were (are) humble, varied in their sizes, colours and finishings. The surrounding landscape had an assortment of contamination and soil occupation. I recall Manuel Graça Dias when he would repeat:

“The landscape is, therefore, populated with houses, many houses or other constructions, inventions that make life possible, that make it more “natural “, there is no ugliness or beauty, there are roads, water mains, deposits, drains, power supplies, ovens, factories, schools, churches (…) symbolic places, the celebration of life in common and sociability (…)”.

I stuffed the proselytism into a bag. I put my hands to work and de-sign. I began reading F. Pereira da Costa's Encyclopaedia of Civil Construction. The Idea: to annex a new covered (and enclosed) space with 270 m²  to the existing 100 m²  and to build a symmetric volume to an expanded structure, getting another 150 m². This symmetrical structure would not be covered; if there was an event (such as this wedding for instance) the exterior spans would be dismounted and the wooden skeleton would be covered with a fabric: the evening hall would appear – with the possibility of 450 m²  of covered area.

The unexpected happened and the old structure was dismantled and rebuilt from scratch. Kitchen, men's and women's toilets, a sauna, a hot‑tub occupied the remoter zones of the hall for summer use. On the neighbouring plot, which had been bought in the meanwhile, there was a small factory and a house. The factory was knocked down to make way for a garden.

We preserved the stone base of the old house. The object is a structure in laminated Nordic Pine. We demanded that all the joints were made using traditional carpentry techniques such as carpenter’s joints and dovetail joints – endless arguments. The floors are in granite. The walls are plastered ceramic bricks, protected by a marble skirting board.


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