Alvaro Siza – Miranda Santos House

Mirando Santos

The writer Luisa Ferreira da Costa commissioned the young Álvaro Siza in 1962 to design a house in a dense neighborhood of small plots. Costa asked for privacy and seclusion, and requested low, indirect light suitable for her writing. Siza responded by providing a two-story house with skylights to create diffuse overhead light and small windows in the elevations to simply provide views of orientation and reference. He made use of the architectural vernacular, using mono pitched tiled roofs and plastered structural granite walls. This produced simplicity of volumes, a quality of composition reinforced by meticulous constructional details with openings framed in thick timbers, untreated to retain their natural color. The house changed ownership in 1987. Its new proprietor, Miranda Dos Santos, commissioned Siza to make alterations which consisted of enlarging existing windows and making new ones as a reaction against the new owner’s perception of the dim light of the skylights. These new openings were detailed differently from the original construction. I think this is a really unique design, and the enlargement of the windows enhanced the look of the house. This is one of my favorite buildings that I have seen designed by Siza so far.


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