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a house where time stands still

The architect Paulo H. Durao’s house in Moreira


The house that Paulo H. Durão built in Moreira is a gem- a house where time stands still.


Heidegger writes that for Aristotle “being” signifies “presence”, present. And following on from this concept of being, the future is that “not-yet-being” while the past is that “no-longer-being”.


This quite radical house in Moreira by Paulo H. Durao is a house of present, past and future. A house so radically beautiful that it is timeless, beyond time, capable of detaining time.


There are houses, works whose spectacular characteristics immediately situate them in the history of architects. They cause such a sensation that with the relentless passage of time they soon become obsolete.  Will-o'-the-wisps, one-day wonders.   


Then there are other houses, other works that pass into the History of Architecture for their rigor and depth, their truth and beauty. They are favored by the passage of time and remain in the memory of the people. Like this house in Moreira.


extraction mechanisms

The house, mysterious and hermetic, appears before us like an impressive closed drawer of reinforced concrete. It looks like the embodiment of the advice given by Berthold Lubetkin, the great Russian architect, who at the end of his life said that he had made nothing more than concrete shoe-boxes.


Demonstrating great wisdom with this box, Paulo H. Durao has excavated the precise incisions for light and air to enter in such a way that the space inside from the excavation of the northeast corner to create the entrance, to the two fissures, like patios, on the east façade, is quite taut.


And once the openings through which light penetrates and crosses the architectural instrument have been pierced, the architects looks for and finds the mechanisms with which this light makes the interior spaces of this box play like a musical instrument. And when the light pours in, the box is converted into a “boîte à miracles”, as proposed by Le Corbusier.


fine-tunung mechanisms

Here the architect carried out exercises of proportion and disproportion, combining compressed horizontal spaces with double-height vertical spaces conveniently crossed by light, to produce effective diagonal spatial effects.



servants, served


The canonical floor-plan is impeccable.  The band of servant elements to one side at the back leaves the more ample served spaces to the other side, opening onto the garden via the openings in the box, the patios.  The house is so well proportioned that although small, it appears large. 




This is the third house after those in Pedrogão and Liteiros that Paulo H. Durão has built. And while the previous two are splendid, this is perhaps the most radical: a mature, masterly work, which puts the quality of the architect to the test and summarizes so well the ideas of its author on architecture. A house that achieves its desired aim of making time stand still. 




The architect, Paulo H. Durao, is about to present his doctoral thesis on Time in Architecture at the UPM in Madrid, where he spent many years as professor in the Architectural Projects Department. And this house can be seen as a logical consequence of his doctoral thesis. As the materialization of many of the themes he analyzes around Time in artistic creation.


Once again we are faced here with Architecture that springs from truth and is developed with truth, and at whose hand beauty is achieved, as Plato proposed: Beauty as the splendor of Truth, the dream of every creator. Radical beauty in this radical house built in Moreira by Paulo H. Durão.



Alberto Campo Baeza, 2012


technical data:

author_ Paulo Henrique Durão, Daniel Gil Tomé, João Ricardo Dias  collaboration_ Jennifer Duarte, Miguel Águas  client_ private  project_ 2008 construction_ 2010-2012 location_  Moreira, Porto, Portugal structure_ Pedro Manuel Fragoso Viegas, Engineer photography_ Javier Callejas

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