Dehonian Centre

Avenida da Boavista 2415, Porto


Nuno Valentim, Frederico Eça


Joana Sarmento, Margarida Ramos

Prémio Ibérico de Arquitectura Palmarés Architecture Technal 2003

41.16149, -8.65198

The overall project consisted in the rehabilitation and extension of a 1930s dwelling on Avenida da Boavista to become a residence for a community of priests and theology students. The housing programme, already rare in this service area (originally urban noble houses) is in itself a requalifying value of the building and its surroundings.

The building is said to have suffered successive alterations, mainly to its interior. The exterior showed signs of degradation and loss of character that made intervention urgent. Despite this loss of character, the original structural and compositional basis founded the renovation, incorporating values identified in the pre-existence. The aim was to rehabilitate the existing house by giving it back attributes that had been lost: restoring natural light, making greater use of the verandas and rationalising infrastructure paths.

All the original stone structural masonry and concrete elements were kept and integrated into the new uses of the spaces to be reconfigured.

As regards the extension for the new bedrooms, the natural slope of the land allowed the extension of the basement floor to be incorporated. Cut into this plan, which rises from the ground but also becomes a ceiling, is the square-shaped central patio, reminiscent of a cloister, which reverses the previous absence of natural light on the ground floor. To this space open the new student rooms, each with its own colour, an external sign of the diversity and identity of each one.

Finally, we should mention the Chapel, the centre of the house and meeting place for the community: a space that welcomes each member, in the colour of each bench (which mirrors the colour of each room), “forming a single body”.