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An apartment with a view of Lisbon. Loft transformation by KEMA studio

21 of February '23
Technical data
Name: Loft apartment in Lisbon
Location: Portugalia, Lisbon
Studio: KEMA studio
Design team: Eliza Borkowska, Magdalena Czapluk
Investor: private
Area: 60 m²
Photos: Alexander Bogorodskiy, Eliza Borkowska


  • design
  • implementation


We take a look at Lisbon's Marvila neighborhood, where architects from KEMA studio transformed an unused attic into a bright apartment overlooking the Tagus River. To get as much open space as possible, the designers introduced specially designed boxes and a large number of windows. The whole, they say, refers to the idea of a "lighthouse"—a shelter on top of a building.

The described interior was realized in one of the oldest industrial and working-class areas of Lisbon—the Marvila district, currently undergoing urban and social transformation.

Boks z ukrytą częścią kuchenną i strefą relaksu

A cubicle with a hidden kitchen area and a relaxation zone

Photo: Eliza Borkowska © KEMA studio

apartment like a lighthouse

The goal of our project was to transform an uninhabitable attic into a bright and open space. The created interior with its character refers to the idea of a "lighthouse"—a shelter at the top of a building away from the hustle and bustle of the city, opening up to distant views, surrounding buildings framed by blue sky and water," explain architects Eliza Borkowska and Magdalena Czapluk.

Architektki zaprojektowały także schody prowadzące na poddasze Mieszkanie pełne jest naturalnych materiałów

natural materials were used in the interior

photo: Alexander Bogorodskiy © KEMA studio

Due to the non-functional plan of the apartment and very poor structural condition, it was necessary to completely remodel the interior and replace the entire roof. The only elements that the architects decided to leave are the ceiling beams and the gable walls. Thanks to considerable interference with the attic space and the geometry of the stairs leading to it, the authors managed to create a comfortable bathroom and entrance space.

Mieszkanie na poddaszu w Lizbonie, projekt

Due to the non-functional plan of the apartment and very poor structural condition,
it was necessary to completely remodel the interior and replace the entire roof

© KEMA studio

space within space

The biggest design challenge was to clear space for the necessary rooms without changing the form and height of the roof due to conservation restrictions.

Boks na poddaszu

The box conceals kitchens, storage spaces and a relaxation area

© KEMA studio

The main goal of this project was to achieve as much open and bright space in the apartment as possible. To achieve this goal, we placed the private areas—a bedroom and a bathroom—in a separate, detached box from the roof. From the remaining space we arranged the living room. The storage space and kitchenette were located in another box integrated into the gable wall of the building. In this way it was possible to keep the living room space undisturbed and give the apartment additional thermal protection, the authors say.

Kuchnia w boksie

kitchen area

© KEMA studio

With the help of divisions, the architects separated two niches in the cubicle—one serving as a kitchen worktop and the other, where a sofa is built in. It does not disturb the open space of the living room, so you can admire the geometry of the interior.

Rytmy malowane przez cień Widok na Lizbonę

The skylights let in plenty of light and provide views of Lisbon

photo: Alexander Bogorodskiy, Eliza Borkowska © KEMA studio

lots of light

A key aspect of the project was the use of natural light—both direct and reflected. The interior was illuminated by four new skylights and two new dormers. Where the architects could not place windows, they introduced narrow glazed strips to introduce indirect light and give the interior a special atmosphere. In addition, large-format mirrors placed in specially selected places, multiply the impression of spaciousness and brightness of the apartment.

Wnętrze mieszkania pełne jest światła i bieli

Narrow glazed strips introduce additional light

photo: Alexander Bogorodskiy © KEMA studio

subdued, natural colors

The use of warm whites and natural colors contributes to the feeling of spaciousness. To this color base, the architects added specially designed decorative elements made of metal and brick, referring to the industrial character of the district.

Mieszkanie na poddaszu w Lizbonie, rzut po remoncie

Lisbon attic apartment, floor plan after renovation

© KEMA studio

Careful and responsible selection of materials is a basic tenet of each of our projects. In this project, sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as fiber cement panels, colored wood fiber boards, plywood, metal, brick tiles and wood flooring were used, the designers add.

Architektki wprowadziły duże okna dachowe

The architects introduced large roof windows and dormers

photo: Alexander Bogorodskiy © KEMA studio

To prevent the attic from overheating, adequate thermal insulation of the roof and UV-controlled translucent external blinds were introduced. In addition, the opening of windows on the two roof slopes, located on opposite elevations of the building, allows it to be ventilated.

W mieszkaniu znajduje się sporo przestrzeni do przechowywania Miejsce do pracy

The interior is full of creative solutions

Photo: Alexander Bogorodskiy © KEMA studio

Designing attic spaces is always a huge challenge, and at the same time an opportunity to apply creative architectural solutions. As a result of this intervention, we managed to create a functional, bright, open and modern apartment. A space that, despite its small size, has breath and fits into the spirit of the neighborhood in which it is located," Eliza and Magdalena conclude.

In our portal you can also read about the creative arrangement of a small space of an apartment in Warsaw, designed by Studio HOKA.

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