We've seen numerous examples of modular, freestanding volumes that hide a multitude of functions and amenities in them, acting like amazing transformers of space. These "mystery boxes" come in all shapes and sizes and colours, but the aim is to ultimately allow people to maximize space, and hide clutter. Portuguese designers OODA transformed two derelict buildings in the city of Porto into affordable accommodations for tourists and seasonal foreign students, by inserting these minimalist, multifunctional volumes into small spaces.
Situated in the central part of the city, the architects' proposal for the 16-unit LOIOS development aims to reconcile existing and underused residential infrastructure with the changing needs of the population in a cost-effective manner. Retail space is included on the ground level, while the interior of these 5-storey buildings have been . Each of these studio units are equipped with a these mystery boxes, which are made with a light steel frame, clad on the interior with cement fiber board and fiberglass panelling, the modules are faced with a perforated skin of wood fiber panel.
Opening up these non-descript volumes reveal a bedroom, office, bathroom, small kitchen and storage -- all of which can be packed and stacked into the unit, out of view when not needed.
The city's historical character and unique painted tiles, found on old buildings, is referenced in the perforated pattern, which allows light to pass through to create a striking visual effect at night. Says architect Diogo Brito on Dezeen:
The perforated technique allowed us to imprint the rasterised images but also to give some transparency to the module so it functions as a grand chandelier in the night.
While the studios are made to look more contemporary, the original look of the building's exterior and lobby is mostly maintained, save for a few touches of design consistency in the perforated wall.
Keeping it modern, visually simple yet hiding a wealth of uses, these modular transformers update under-utilized spaces, while speaking to the traditional nature of this part of Porto -- showing that older buildings don't necessarily have to be razed to make way for something new, but can rather be re-adapted with less intrusive design interventions. More over at Dezeen and OODA.