House Antero de Quental by Manuel Maia Gomes


Photographer Fernando Guerra has sent us his photographs of a spiral staircase lined with bookcases by Portuguese architect Manuel Maia Gomes.

The staircase forms part of a project called House Antero de Quental that involved converting the former home of a nineteenth century poet into a literary centre.

The staircase spirals up through two storeys and into a tower.

The shelves are back-lit through translucent plexiglass and will hold 6000 books.

The following information is from Manuel Maia Gomes:


The recovering works of this building where done to host a institution in charge of spreading the literair heritage of local and national writers, philosopher and poets.

This house where the poet and philosopher Antero de Quental lived from 1881 intel 1891, was about 30 year, ago subject to works which completely destroyed the image of its original shape.

The interior was completely demolished, remaining only part of the outer walls.

The interior walls where replaced by a structure consisting of beton pillars and beams, filled with hollow ceramic brick.

The preliminary work’s for demolition of the existing build elements has identified the foundations of the old walls, which where reconstructed in the traditional technology using granit stone.

We can conclude that de volume and partitioning of the house now restored, is close to the old building where the poet lived, except in the interior now changed, in order to obtain larger rooms while maintaining the basic domestic typology.

The building which has two levels comprises a "pseudo tower" with more two floors.

This typology is recurrent in the city which served to spot de entry of vessels in the mouth of the river.

These two floors of limited size world be taken by stairs to have his access.

Thus, our project accept this limitation and propose the installation of the library in this place with the capacity of 6.000 books, it’s spiral circular shape arrangement allows one superior distribution of the books to any other provision enhancing thereby the available space.

It also serves at the symbolic level to introduce the knowledge of the poet who has lived in this house, through the indefinitely curved line projected in the space, of the necessary reinvention of room.

We use traditional materials, stone, stucco, providing new commodities as floor heating and ventilation.

The floor are covered with recycled wood, cut from old structural beams composing one irregular brownish color of this resin wood, contrasting with the white painting used in walls and ceilings ,it gives a sense of userd space.

The structure of the spiral library is made of steel, forming one cylinder, supporting the stairs, without touching the walls.

The light comes above and behind the structure trough translucent plexiglas, by this effect the light is projected over the books as they should enlight their readers.

Posted on Monday March 22nd 2010 at 12:08 am by Antonia Anastasiadi. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Gustavo Pestana

    as we say in “brazilian” portuguese: QUE FODA!

  • scruces

    wow beautiful work
    both the design and the photographs

  • Quzy


    But can designers stop doing back-lit or bottom-lit shelves ?!
    They make all displayed objects back-lit and appear dark. The shelves look damn good, but not the objects. I’d like to see the same photos taken with the books in, without flash.

  • joaopedro


  • Aleksey

    Quzy is right)
    the 1st i felt is an unexplainable need to feed these shelves just with ANYTHING)))

  • martin

    Nice.. the angled reveal from the room next door works particularly well.

    I agree with the point about the lighting – but maybe the back lit shelves would be best reserved for showing off fancy glass trinkets rather than books..

  • klejdi eski

    It’s beautiful ! I wish I could see more from this project.

  • Laura

    This is beautiful. All the smooth white surfaces gain interest by the lights that bounce off each of them so differently. The contrast between the smooth blank surface and the natural porous, grained, warm wooden floors is very nice. The wood destroys the otherwise possibly sterile feel, it is still neat and clean but not uncomfortable. Visually pleasing in every picture.

  • Kathy

    @Quzy. I hear you sister/brother!!

  • This really is stunning. It also gives a nod to the Portuguese aesthetics. Both architect and photographer have presented something very pure and fluid. Actually being there in the space must be quite ethereal. Thanks for posting Dezeen.

  • This is an amazing space… the white looks fantastic along with the warm colors of the wood…

  • Giulio

    The “total white” staircase spiral with bookcases is simply awesome. Great pics too.

  • JP

    Is this about the staircase only?

  • great design.. just think 5 great photos would be enough.. nice job!

  • rib

    great piece of arts

  • Frank

    very cool!

  • Antonio Azevedo

    Simplesmente fabuloso o trabalho projectado e executado e que tive o previlégio de observar “in loco”.
    Elevadissima pureza estética que nos deixa orgulhosos de ter entre nós quem sabe !
    Parabéns .
    Grato pela visita guiada de ontem !
    Simply awesome work designed and executed and I had the privilege to observe in loco.
    A very high aesthetic purity that makes us proud to have among us who knows!

  • Paulino Leite da Silva

    Extraordinary architectural work, made even more spectacular if viewed on the site. Portugal has such beautiful things. Architect Manuel Maia Gomes Congratulations!

  • Miguel Sousa

    De quem conhece a “batalha” por esta intervenção na cidade, um veemente VIVA!!! por esta obra: pela qualidade do projeto, pelo carinho do desenho e pela dedicação à qualificação do “fazer arquitectura”.

  • Martin Eide

    wonder why the title says house and not just stair? Nice stair though.

  • catarina clemente

    Que ideia fantástica! Muito interessante, e mais ainda será quando as prateleiras tiverem o seu merecido conteúdo! Parabéns ao autor e ao fotógrafo – imagens muito sugestivas. Dá vontade visitar de imediato o espaço.

  • Is it a concrete staircase?

  • The wood color plays so well with the whitewashed walls.