Casa Do Monte

Hidden behind a listed 19th century shophouse of inner city Melbourne, the contemporary extension skillfully navigates a very tight site to wrap two boutique apartment buildings over a retail space around a central courtyard.

The popular neighbourhood built around the historical hermitage holds on to the steep hillside. Accessible via narrow stairs only, many houses have been abandoned over the years. A building in rubble is reconstructed to host the single family house on tree levels.

The regular rhythm of the historical openings in the white facade of the building is preserved, but the interiors are carved to create larger volumes, play on light and views. Double high spaces allow for breathing and communication between the floors, generating a flowing and undivided space.

The economical house is built with simple and row materials. The mineral concrete structure is left exposed. Local pink and white marble from the nearby quarry of Estremoz is the unique material used for the interiors. Large slabs of solid stone create walls, floors and shelfs, reducing the details to the bare minimum.

Light fabric curtains are used for visual divisions and intimacy. On each floor, a central core holds the elementary needs: beds, showers, kitchen, equipment. A large and fluid living space surrounds the cores, avoiding divisions and allowing for a multi-purpose and modulating use. Large wood sliding doors allow to temporarily separate the volumes and create enclosed bedrooms when needed. The fireplace fitted in the curved marble of the ground floor heats the stone core on each floor.

On the lower level, a contained and shaded patio offers a colourful exterior room open to the sky of Lisbon. The walls of the patio are tiled with locally produced traditional azulejos.

A single spiral staircase connects the levels and reaches the roof terrace. Surrounded by the blue waters of the pool, the white marble plane offers a panoramic view of the seemingly endless cityscape. Three umbrella pines, recalling the ones planted by the monks in front of the chapel of Nossa Senhora do Monte, provide shade during the hot hours of the day.

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