After the interview with Manuel Amaral Netto, we’ve met the trio of architects (Domingos Domingues, Pedro Homem and José Rhodes Sérgio), who heads PHDD, which has the office next to Útil in Restelo. Being one of the architecture studios in Lisbon that has developed an interesting work around the rehabilitation of mid-century houses (the ones we like to sell in The Nest), PHDD develops spaces with a purist language, where function and adaptability are command words. We interviewed Domingos Domingues and José Rhodes Sérgio in their Lisbon office:
Tell us a little about PHDD? Domingos - We started our work during the last crisis in a garage in Ajuda. Pedro and I managed to keep the studio open in 2012 and 2013, it were difficult times, but then we evolved and José Maria joined us. He had experience of an atelier that did not felt the crisis, because they worked a lot outside of Portugal. José added value to the company in large scale projects.
The work we developed initially was very much focused on the social housing neighborhoods of the 1950s. Not only because of the proximity of what was our experiences here in the area of Belém, but also because we started in the beggining to adapt this small houses, used by the people who came from Portugal’s countryside to work in the city, and that nowadays are highly sought after. We did the first in 2011 and we have done several annually and it is a work that has evolved quite well, of which one day we would like to do a study.
José - In addition to the rigor and quality of what we do, an idea that interests us a lot is that we have fun working, which is really differentiating, especially in these days. We are all friends, we spend quality time here and the work that leaves the studio is a result of this.
What do you like most about your house?
Domingos - My house was one of the first projects of our studio. I like the idea of knowing that it is possible to change everything, that we can design a space, that it must have the capacity to adapt to the various phases of life.
From the day I started to design my house to this day, my family grew by 4 people, so what matters most is being able to change it without having to move. This is an idea that is starting to reflect today, and I am not talking about modular solutions, but about the houses adapting to the needs of the people who inhabit them, contrary to the idea that architecture can adjust the way we live. What I like most about my house is that it was designed to be able to evolve from the family point of view.
The house is divided into three layers and we can easily change the functionality of the spaces. Turn the second room dedicated to children into a bedroom or have a larger room for myself and my wife and put the kids on another floor. It was designed for this to happen, to make room for each age group, because I like to host my friends and that my children host theirs.
"A perfect house is a place with good light, generous spaces and that can be adapted to the various stages of the life of those who inhabit it." José Rhodes Sérgio
Where do you live?
José - Both of us (José and Domingos) were born, studied and grew up here. It's funny now that we continue to live and work at Restelo.
And if you did not live there, where would you like to live?
José - I would live in the street next door! Restelo, this area of Belém and the neighborhoods around here have an excellent relationship with the city center, the sea and Monsanto park.
It allows to have a harmony between the house, the neighborhood, the interior and the exterior, that I do not know in other areas of the city.
Domingos - This turns out to be in our work and in the relationship with our clients, for whom we did works in these neighborhoods. By the full awareness that we have of the neighborhood experience, not the one of today, but of the one that we had in the past and that we would like to have again. I think the way we translate in design and in the discourse with the clients in the presentation of the projects is the relation between the interior and the exterior. But not the one written in the architecture books, but the connection between the neighborhood and the house, because we played football in the street and only went inside to go to the bathroom. You can have here a very different lifestyle from what people are used to in a city.
Why do you like Lisbon?
Domingos - Lisbon is a fantastic city, has a great proximity to the river, Monsanto, and other urban parks, and has beaches very close. It is a city that has much to evolve and then we are here, the Portuguese are very friendly to outsiders, if we travel abroad we realize how well we welcome others.
What is project you would like to design?
Domingos - A museum or gallery, it has a program that allows us in architecture to do a bit of art. When we are doing architecture to inhabit, the function has to prevail, otherwise the house will not adapt to people, it conditions their life. These more theoretical programs have the possibility of creating a space to reflect architecture from a sculptural point of view, this is a very interesting challenge.
José - Domingos is always saying that 'there are many good architects, good clients not so much'. It is interesting to think that we are in a phase in this office that we have already proved our competence, we feel that the team has capacity for this type projects.
Domingos - The good client is the one who wants to be sitting next to us, doing the project with us. It is someone who wants to realize what we are doing, this makes us question our work and when this happens normally the result is better. Often, when someone comes to congratulate us on a project, we say that the client is the one who is to be congratulated, he believed and wanted to work with us.