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In Lisbon, a Narrow but Glamorous Marble-Clad Apartment

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In Lisbon, a Narrow but Glamorous Marble-Clad Apartment

September 20, 2017

The Lisbon apartment their clients acquired was, by all accounts, unremarkable: Its building was formulaic and the unit itself poorly kept, a disorienting series of fragmented hallways and small rooms devoid of natural light. Luckily, everyone wanted to start over.

The architects—Fala Atelier, a young collective based in Porto—were given complete freedom by their clients, a pair of French architects making a property investment in Portugal. The firm knocked down all interior walls and began anew, allotting one long hallway in the narrow apartment as the main living space, bordered by a curved wall leading to the private rooms. With the addition of the singular curved wall, “the whole apartment was organized in one gesture,” says project architect Filipe Magalhães.

The curved wall holds five blue-painted doors, “hanging detached from the floor like a set of monochrome paintings,” each leading to an undisclosed private space. The hovering doors resulted from a design problem—several ducts and pipes crossed the floor in that area, so Fala decided to elevate the private spaces to accommodate. “The visual result is quite charming for being the product of a technical need,” said Magalhães. Let’s take a closer look.

Photography by Fernando Guerra, courtesy of Fala Atelier.

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Above: Fala eliminated the labyrinthine layout of the previous iteration; now, the main room is one long hallway that stretches from the front of the building to the back patio and contains the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. Private spaces are accessed through blue-painted doors off the single, curved white wall.
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Above: The blue doors are intentionally nondescript: They lead to the master bedroom, the main entryway, the toilet, shower room, and guest bedroom. All the interior rooms now have windows and natural light.

“There are five monochrome doors lifted slightly off the ground. From the living room, you have no idea what hides behind each of them,” says the architect.

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Above: Each door is painted a slightly different shade of blue, applied by hand with thick brushes using Annie Sloan paint. “The visual effect was tested several times in order to achieve this exact look,” said Magalhães.
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Above: The kitchen is a custom Fala design with countertops of green and pink Portuguese marble.
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Above: The flooring is 
natural Portuguese marble called Estremoz Branco.
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Above: Kitchen accessories include low-budget picks from Ikea.

The project’s budget was appropriate for its complexity, said Magalhães, but on the lower end overall. “This was a cheap project, but we don’t believe adding more money would have made a big difference,” he said. “We are used to working with low budgets and we actually don’t consider that a problem.”

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Above: All freestanding furniture pieces, including this bedside table, were designed by Fala Atelier. Each table is made of a lightweight metal frame, painted white and topped with heavily veined Portuguese marble.
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Above: An open clothing storage unit makes use of two marble slabs to store shoes and folded items.
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Above: The back patio is pale gray micro-cement. The step leading from the hallway is a block of black marble that works as a step.
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Above: The previous version of the apartment had an oddly located exterior bathroom. Fala demolished the bath and opened the room to the sky, but retained the plumbing to allow for an outdoor shower.

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