The Arc
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The Arc: tradition and modernity

Photography by © Maria João Gala

In Ribeira – one of the oldest and most typical areas of the city of Porto and a UNESCO World Heritage site – the building “The Arc” underwent a renovation for tourism purposes. In this context, 17 apartments were designed for city breaks or longer stays, allowing a family experience in typologies ranging from studio to two-bedroom.

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The movement – which marked the history of this space – was the starting point of the conceptual framework for this intervention. The constant flow of people, animals, goods, and boats through the Ribeira area, as well as the goods arriving in the city and, in contrast, the wine being exported to other countries, served as inspiration for the project. Arcs of circles that expand and contract in motion – used as a metaphor for the trade in the Ribeira area during the 19th century – have been incorporated into each of the apartments.


Simultaneously, the concept of movement – the people who used to ascend and descend Rua de S. João – has been translated today to the people who enter and exit these apartments, no longer for work but to enjoy a unique city.


The building, acting as a privileged window, offers views of life, people, and all the activities of Ribeira, with the continuous arrival and departure of boats. The façade of the building remains unchanged, preserving the woodwork, the restoration method that safeguards the construction tradition, as well as the stonework, ironwork, and traditional materials, all while providing the necessary contemporary comfort. The ornamental designs adorning the glass are from the historical period and have been rehabilitated using traditional methods, keeping the frames of the large windows at the ground floor level, overlooking Rua de S. João, where two commercial spaces hold a special place in contemporary Porto.