Our client wanted to enlarge his two-bedroom apartment so he acquired one more above, to be used as a master bedroom including a hammam and a small living room where he could rest, read or work without having to walk to the main social area downstairs. This apartment had a living room with a small balcony and an attic for storage, without natural light or ventilation. We widened the balcony window, opened a large skylight in the attic and tore down the wall partitioning living room and attic, and suddenly the gloomy apartment was a single space flooded with light from dawn till sunset. One thing our client loves about Lisbon is the abundant daylight throughout the year – and he wanted the apartment extension to catch as much of it as possible – but he had on the other hand an elaborate list of requests as to how this apartment should be fit for different use configurations.
Instead of partitioning the en suite bedroom with corridors and doors, we arranged all spaces in a linear sequence, divided by filters adjusted to each condition: reflective glass, transparent glass, translucent curtains, black-out curtains and also the steam from the hammam. Each space has its own materiality: synthetic self-levelling floor in the living room, Vila Viçosa marble in the hammam and teak wood in the bedroom, and different natural and/or artificial light conditions, as well as the actual filters' arrangement – open, closed, closed and overlaid – influences their appearance: at different moments the same space may be reflective and opaque or luminous and transparent, finite or blurred with adjacent spaces. Plus, the lighting installation is quite elaborate and allows many different combinations of natural and/or artificial light. While the apartment configuration can be controlled to fit different moods – open and sociable, closed and intimate, etc. – the atmosphere of each space depends on the combination of many filters, and these are extremely sensitive to changes, so one could say that the house is constantly – and up to a certain degree unpredictably – interacting with the user. And light – magnificent and unpredictable – is what drew our client to Lisbon in the first place.