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Atelier In Vitro creates retro interiors for three apartments in 1940s Porto building

Architecture studio Atelier In Vitro took a nostalgic approach to the renovation of three apartments in an old building in Porto, by restoring parquet and marble floors, and adding mid-century furniture.

Atelier In Vitro renovated three apartments in the 19th-century building, including one on the fifth floor

The three 200-square-metre apartments are located on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors of Porto's Palácio do Comércio.

To complement the character of the building, the architects restored existing features like wooden parquet flooring

Described by Atelier In Vitro as "one the most charismatic buildings in the city", the block was designed by Portuguese architect couple Maria José Marques da Silva and David Moreira da Silva and constructed between 1944 and 1946.

The original layout of the flat, including a curved entrance hall and a central corridor, was preserved

The architects wanted their design to complement the character of the building while also creating comfortable homes.

The kitchens were rearranged and fitted with white cabinets, marble splashback and patterned floor tiles

"The proposed interventions sought to minimise the impact on the apartments, preserving and valuing their original characteristics," said the architects.

"At the same time, the fact that the apartments were in a good state of conservation, led to proposals involving essentially a set of specific interventions."

Marble walls and floors, and ceramics in the bathrooms were also retained, along with fittings in the nostalgic style

The renovation involved restoring original features like the wooden parquet floors in the living rooms, marble tiles on the walls and floors, and the mosaics and ceramics in the bathrooms and kitchens.

The second apartment, on the sixth floor, features similar finishes, like dark wooden door frames and lightly painted walls

Although of different sizes – the sixth floor apartment has five bedrooms, while the fifth and the seventh floor flats each have three bedrooms – each has windows on two sides.

The walls of the entrance all, however, are covered with blue-patterned paper

On the western side, windows face into an inner courtyard, while the windows on the eastern side overlook the street.

This flat's bathroom has darker marble tiles on the walls and a blue bathroom suite

A central corridor runs down the middle of each home, originally intended to separate the service rooms on one side from the more "noble" spaces like the living room.

The architects wanted to maintain this hierarchy between the spaces, so only slightly rearranged the interior layout. They then emphasised this hierarchy with their choice of materials.

In each of the apartments, the architects moved the dining room to create a better relationship with the lounge

"The carpentries are made of exotic species of wood in the most noble rooms, while in the other spaces they are painted in different colours," said the architects.

Colourful lampshades feature in one of the sixth floor apartment's five bedrooms – the others just have three

The kitchens were reorganised, and now include white cabinets and colourful tiled floors. Dining rooms are now placed next to the living rooms, but can separated by sliding wooden doors with gridded glass.

Located on the seventh floor, the third apartment features brightly coloured furniture to complement the decorative rug

In the case of the apartments of the fifth and sixth floor, this change created more space for en-suites in the bedrooms. The additional bathroom on the seventh floor features more contemporary finishes, like white subway-style tiles.

The new bathroom has a more contemporary finish of white subway-style tiles to offset traditional flooring

For the rest of the interiors the chosen furnishings complement these retro finishes. Additions include patterned rugs, dark wooden chairs and tables, and colourful lampshades and sofas.

All of the flats are set inside Porto's Palácio do Comércio – described by the architects as "one the most charismatic buildings in the city"

Other apartments occupying 19th-century buildings in Porto include one containing monolithic freestanding units that house the kitchens, beds, bathrooms and other furniture, while another has 14 flats for young people and students.

Photography is by José Campos.

More images and plans

Fifth floor apartment floor plan
Sixth floor apartment floor plan
Seventh floor apartment floor plan
Sixth floor apartment
Sixth floor apartment
Sixth floor apartment
Sixth floor apartment
Sixth floor apartment
Sixth floor apartment
Sixth floor apartment