Tsou Arquitectos realizes a graceful home on an awkward lot in downtown Porto

A Stair Affair

Typically, wedges divide one thing from another. But a new home in Porto, Portugal, by local firm Tsou Arquitectos challenges that assumption by leveraging the wedge for unification.

Casa Vertical is a single-family home gracefully positioned on an awkward lot in downtown Porto. To play smart with the property’s irregular proportions, Tsou Arquitectos designed a 2,500-square-foot, wedged-shaped building with half-floors organized around a central staircase that runs each of its 4.5 stories.

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

“The project intends to accommodate the functional program on a narrow plot of land in the center of the city,” the architects explained. “The organization of the various spaces is carried out vertically and develops around a central staircase with the distribution of the compartments on half floors.┬áThe staircase unifies the intervention, where the guardrail unfolds like an origami piece.”

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

On the first (ground) floor, visitors are welcomed into a gradually widening hallway that leads to a studio and a powder room. Looking upwards, the home’s snaking, central stair creates a parallelogram-shaped opening which extends to the building’s roof.

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

The dining room serves as a snapshot of the contrasting forces at play throughout the house. Pairings work off of each other, from dark and light materials to antique furnishings with contemporary construction and organic forms set against rectilinear planes.

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

The living and dining rooms sit on the next half-story, with a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen above. White marble with bold grey veining creates continuity across the kitchen and all of Casa Vertical’s bathrooms. The considerable fluted millwork in the kitchen also relates to the substantial central guardrail and doors on each floor.

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

Two bedrooms and a bathroom occupy the third grouping of floors, while a laundry room and a terrace share the top of the building. From above, the lot’s unique shape is highlighted by the design’s sharp, clean application of marble and concrete.

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

In the half basement, an office gets substantial natural light thanks to a large window that crosses the living-room balcony. A semicircular portal cuts through the floor plate to allow the light from one aperture to reach multiple floors. Here, familiar warm wood accents are also set above concrete floors.

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

(Ivo Tavares Studio)

Although Casa Vertical is unmistakably contemporary, its tripartite facade bridges old and new with vertical windows and a cornice that nods to the look of many traditional Porto homes.