Established in the city of Santo Tirso, this urban residential area is faced with a unique and difficult setting. Surrounded by neighbors who had virtually no impact on its appearance or atmosphere, it was only natural for Pema Studio to devise an intervention that could address these challenges head-on.

The pre-existing condition, highly dilapidated and of little use or value, was nothing more than the typical dichotomy between a street frontage and an enclosed back courtyard. Choosing to transcend this conventional typology is both daring and logical; above all else, however, it is necessary for any successful transformation.

This intervention begins with a bold block, almost fearlessly freeing itself from the boundary. Through subtraction, open spaces are formed that intuitively accommodate all necessary programs and patios while maintaining an indirect connection to their exterior limits.

Forte is a unique architectural masterpiece that finds harmony between the concept of a secure fortress and classic patio houses. Its name implies its emphasis on safety, while its volumetric design captures light and ventilation for the space with inspiration from Islamic culture. This complex balance creates an intimate oasis in which occupants can enjoy protection from their environment amidst fresh air and plenty of sunlight.

The original facade, a distinct feature of the previous incarnation of this structure, is one of the few remaining relics from its past life. Having been restored and updated with necessary functional changes to better connect with nearby structures and reduce intervention in the cityscape’s visual identity, it now serves as a unifying element.

The clients and friends were searching for a house that was both practical, yet flexible; sensitive but also surprising – all within the limits of their space constraints. After careful consideration, the solution captures this challenge with personality intact and an emotive quality created through the manipulation of light as its primary feature.

Below you can see a few images shot by Ivo Tavares.

Forte House in Santo Tirso, Portugal by Pema Studio
Forte House in Santo Tirso, Portugal by Pema Studio

All images © by Ivo Tavares and Pema Studio. Do not hesitate to browse through the Architecture and Interior Design categories to find more inspiring homes.

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