Leica building

Year: 2016 - 2019
Local: Sá da Bandeira street, Porto
Intervention: Rehabilitation for housing and commerce.

The building is situated in a “consolidated urban facade area” in the beginning of Sá da Bandeira street. Its facade contributes to urban richeness, constituting some of the best buildings in the expansion of Sá da Bandeira street meeting the corner with Sampaio Bruno street.

Its facade is particularly rich and well crafted, transitioning from the Neoclassical period to the Art Nouveau style, already with slight “deco” notes in the metalworks, it has very rich glazing of large dimensions framed by a precious design stone work, constituting an example of the best transitional architecture from the 19th to the 20th century.

The intention of the client, who is owner and main shareholder of the Leica’s company, is to fully restore the building, inserting the program dedicated to photography and other sides of the brand.

It will be Leica’s first opening in the Iberian Peninsula and also the first time it opens doors in a non capital city. This is naturally due to the proximity to Leica’s largest factory, situated in Famalicão, but also due to the present visibility of Porto as a destination.

On the street level we have “Leica Store”, a store of precision optical devices, and, on an intermediate floor, the continuity of the store, where the “Photo Gallery” is installed for temporary exhibitions by invited artists.

The first floor integrates offices, academy and photographic studio.

The basement will house the technical areas and support office for the store’s activity and the Leica Store’s gallery and restrooms.

On the three upper floors, 3 noble apartments were developed, served by the original staircase of the building, fully recovered in marble, as well as the entire structure of the building in concrete structure, restoring the existing elevator with new machinery equiped with new security systems.

The facades were fully restored, the stonework cleaned, the metalwork, new window frames in lacquered wood and iron equipped with double glazing. The upper volume was redesigned harmonizing its connection with the side turret and creating a new balcony, with the elevation being indented in the facade, behind the stone carved platband.

The roof was rebuit in zinc and “Marseille” tile over a new structure respecting the existing form.

A new large skylight was opened, illuminating the central space of the store and solving the entire ventilation and HVAC system.

Inside, the basement has been rehabilitated and the access stairs from the Gallery have been preserved.

Without any relevant historical element, the basement object of intervention, remodeling the finishing materials for more resistant ones, namely renewing the public toilets to marble ones.

On the ground floor, the store and gallery were completely restored, preserving the maximum of existing elements, wich was the main subject in the choice of acquisition of this building.

Preserving its double height, all plaster moldings and the original composed plaster and wood ceilings, the marble panels will also be preserved, introducing only new paintings and new marble floors to enhance the existing heritage.

All the other floors were completely renovated, preserving as much as possible the original character. The changes were punctual.

The presupposed regulations about rehabilitation the apartments and the commerce/services were complied in terms of accessibility and regulatory legislation, giving the building the best possible quality.

Architecture: Duarte Morais Soares
MSA team: Maria João Lopes, Telmo Gomes
Photo: Inês d'Orey