A big­ger splash

Tiles of the un­ex­pected in the Por­tuguese cap­i­tal

Wallpaper - - July -

Paulo Men­des da Rocha has a hand in a lav­ish ren­o­va­tion in Lis­bon’s Lapa

Azule­jos, or pat­terned tiles, have adorned Lis­bon’s churches, palaces and houses since the 16th cen­tury. They are as cen­tral to the Por­tuguese cap­i­tal as salted cod and cus­tard tarts, and pro­vide a vis­ual guide to its his­tory, each dec­o­ra­tive style in­dica­tive of a par­tic­u­lar decade. Busi­nesses small and large, from side-street ate­liers and stall holders at the Feira da Ladra flea mar­ket to es­tab­lished deal­ers such as Cor­tiço & Ne­tos (which has more than 900 vin­tage styles in its col­lec­tion), trade in the cel­e­brated ce­ram­ics.

On the crest of a hill in the salu­bri­ous district of Lapa, one par­tic­u­lar tiled façade shines brighter than the rest. It’s covered in striped tiles that, when their cor­ners are put together, form mul­ti­coloured squares and stars. They are from the 1930s, and the same de­signs ap­pear on the El­e­vador da Bica, the fu­nic­u­lar sta­tion in down­town Lis­bon. These, though, look as good as new thanks to a ren­o­va­tion last year that trans­formed what was a shabby apart­ment block into a fam­ily home.

In many districts of Lis­bon, word of mouth or a plain white sheet of pa­per in the win­dow in­di­cate when a prop­erty is up for grabs. Lo­cal ar­chi­tect Inês Lobo heard the block was for sale and she took her clients, a Por­tuguese cou­ple with three chil­dren, to view it. They fell in love with its splen­did views and with Lapa’s sleepy feel and bought it straight away.

The ren­o­va­tion was set to be­gin when a chance meet­ing changed ev­ery­thing. The owner, on a work trip to São Paulo, stopped by Ga­le­ria Leme to see some art. There he was in­tro­duced to the gallery’s owner Ed­uardo Leme and its ar­chi­tect, Paulo Men­des da Rocha. When he heard Lobo was in­volved in re­mod­elling a house in Lis­bon, Men­des da Rocha agreed to col­lab­o­rate. The pair have been friends for 20 years; he was fa­mil­iar with the schools and civic build­ings

THE BACK OF THE PROP­ERTY IN LIS­BON’S LAPA DISTRICT HAS BEEN COM­PLETELY RE­MOD­ELLED IN CON­CRETE AND NOW FEA­TURES A POOL TER­RACE AND AN ORIGAMI-LIKE COR­NER WIN­DOW FRAM­ING VIEWS OF THE ES­TU­ARY

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