Nuno Melo Sousa uses a wedge-shaped lightwell to bring light into a courtyard living room

A triangular lightwell covered in scale-like shingles extends from the roof of this living room that architect Nuno Melo Sousa has added to a house in Penafiel, Portugal (+ slideshow).

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

Named Sala em Pala, the project involved building a single-storey extension in the house's former courtyard.

According to Nuno Melo Sousa, the property had been "a sum of attachments, without a living area", so was in need of a space for occupants to relax in.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

The new structure is framed on three sides by the main property but has been designed to appear visually separate. The challenge was to allow enough daylight to enter without impacting too much on the original architecture.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

"In order not to disrupt the house's daily life, the main structure was built without destroying the existing windowed yellow wall," said the architect.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

Instead, the roof of the new living room is set lower than the existing eaves but a triangular concrete wedge extends up along one side, creating a high-level window that allows daylight to funnel in from above.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

The remaining two sides of this wedge are clad with rounded slate shingles, which are reminiscent of fish scales.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

"A large skylight emerges in traditional slate shingles, evoking the same material used for the existing vernacular kitchen on the plot's opposite side, and providing light and ventilation to the new living room," explained Melo Sousa.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

The living room's only exposed facade is fronted by glazing, offering views out to a now much smaller terrace.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

The room's floor is set just below ground level, creating space for a wooden seating ledge that also functions as a low-level bookshelf and storage area. The skirting board also lines up with the base of the glazing and is finished in the same colour.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

The flooring is wooden, contrasting with the concrete ceiling overhead. At the back, a fireplace is integrated into the wall.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

A ramp connects the living room with the rest of the house, flanked on one side by a wooden sideboard.

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect

Photography is by José Campos.


Project credits:

Architecture: Nuno Melo Sousa
Engineer: Bruno Caetano
Construction: Vieira Esposa e Filhos

Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect
Plan – click for larger image
Sala em Pala, Portugal by Nuno Melo Sousa Architect
Section – click for larger image