Santa Isabel House / Ricardo Bak Gordon


Architects: Ricardo Bak Gordon
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 560 sqm
Photographs: FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

Perhaps what’s most important in this project is the desire to refer to the city that exists within the city,  the places inside the city, whose matrix anchored in street, square and block it originated. There are many such places in Lisbon, more or less old, deeper or more open to the sky, but always very impenetrable. This other city, so often abandoned and unhealthy, can be recovered, giving way to another network of places, like overlapping meshes that can constitute a regeneration of the urban fabric.

Site Plan

All this concerns the project for two houses built in the midst of a block in Santa Isabel, a site with an area of about 1.000 square meters previously occupied by semi-industrial sheds and with access via a small store open to the street. The programe mandated the construction of two houses, a bigger one for the family’s daily life and another two-bedroom one to be rented.  All of this was to be built in the area of about 400 square meters for which construction was authorized, replacing the existing sheds. The site was notable in that the empty space stood out with respect to the built, and for the vertical surroundings embodied in the façades of the neighbouring buildings, which would suggest a very horizontal building, in contrast.

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

The house is built with very regular and hierarchic spaces, the voids, around which the programmatic living spaces gravitated. A first patio, more public, receives and distributes between the two houses. Inside the house, we move among patios and gardens (some more contemplative, others bigger and for effective use) and trees which will grow here, projecting the scale over time. The house is almost obsessively built solely of exposed reinforced concrete. Peripheral limits are covered in green climbers, changing natural elements, while the other walls and roofs are left simultaneously powerful and delicate, to resist the pressure of the environment.

© FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra

Throughout these places an illusion is created in the confrontation of positive/negative, closed construction and void, which directs how the space is structured. Between “being inside” and “being outside” are the modular steel windows that are less wide where filtration is desired and larger to provide a generous expanse. Whoever goes there must enter by a yellow door.

Cite: "Santa Isabel House / Ricardo Bak Gordon" 12 Jun 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • ariana roberts

    all i can say is,wow. it looks so clean!

  • Rui Rodrigues

    Portugal esta cada vez mais de parabéns! Mostramos ao mundo a nossa arte!