Is it their design of ‘naive’ architecture, as they call it, or their taste for postmodernist details that is so attractive to private clients? Founded in 2013, the Portuguese studio Fala Atelier is shaking up Porto. Find their presentation in the lines below, published in AA’s 433rd issue.
Both graduates of the Porto faculty of architecture, founding architects Filipe Magalhães and Ana Luisa Soares, aged 32 and 31 respectively, joined by Ahmed Belkhodja, aged 29, a graduate of ETH Zurich, have developed a recognisable vocabulary, an architecture focused on detail which is particularly welcome for the renovation of Porto’s narrow houses.
In 2019 alone, they have completed no fewer than five houses for private individuals, in addition to an apartment and two blocks of collective housing in Porto and its suburbs. For the ‘Uneven House‘, the architects converted a ground-floor shop and its basement into a 180 sq.m two-floor apartment. Behind the building, an extension was demolished and converted into a garden, providing unhoped-for light to the underground spaces. Inside, the “Fala touch”: concave and convex walls, a circular opening and marble floors.
In Fontaínhas, in the centre of Porto, the renovation of a 250 sq.m-house was another opportunity to demonstrate their taste for unlikely volumes: on the ground floor, the architects designed a single room, the size of which is defined by a curved wall. Once again, attention is paid to embellishments: striped wooden floors, sky blue ceilings, a pink kitchen… right through to the outside, where a streaked concrete ledge supports a blue circle, a purely ornamental detail.
In 2019, again for a private commission in Porto, a block of six collective houses was completed around a shared garden, over a surface area of only 190 sq.m. Four of the houses follow a similar plan of one room split in two by a semi-circular wall. The floor in each of the six houses is polished blue marble and the ceilings are painted pink.
The three architects put their attention to detail to good use in a social housing project, completed in 2018 in Penafiel, to the North of Porto. Exposed concrete beams, colourful doors and marble landings for these six housing units which occupy a former clothing factory. The symmetry of the initial building forced them to use a more orthogonal plan but it also enabled them to create large areas, “without indications on how to occupy the spaces”. “It is probably the least extravagant project we have designed. Its spatial extravagance is still visible nonetheless”, argues Filipe Magalhães.
Six houses and a garden, Porto, Portugal, 2019
Uneven house, private house, Porto, Portugal, 2019
This article written by Anastasia de Villepin was published in AA’s 433rd issue – Social housing, a French exceptionalism ? — , available on our online store.