IN: Inspiration

A budget-friendly abode

Portuguese architects design a stunning low-cost family home for a couple on a very tight budget


The couple initially asked architect Jose Carlos Nunes de Oliveira, who leads the architect studio NOARQ, to build a 160-square-metre home for €80 000, but after telling them that is was impossible to do so with that amount, they increased the budget to €100 000.

PPC Imaginarium

Dubbed as Mami House, Nunes de Oliveira designed this cuboidal, two-storey concrete home, which is located in Matosinhos, a coastal town just outside Porto in Portugal. The site, described by Nunes de Oliveira as being “the shape of a slice of pizza”, was previously dotted with sheds and vegetable gardens.

The secret to keeping the budget down was to keep the building’s finish as simple as possible. Externally, walls are coated with a pale grey render, while the concrete is left bare inside.

PPC Imaginarium

“We identified the more expensive options of a building,” explained Nunes de Oliveira. “We prefer to invest in the energy efficiency of the building, instead of an expense in finishing materials,” he continued. “I imagine the house as a mini bunker. Natural concrete walls inside, and on the outside, a thermal insulation component system.”

In keeping with the ‘simple’ design theme, the architects kept the layout as straightforward as possible, with no more partitions than necessary. 

PPC Imaginarium

At the centre of the home is the staircase, which serves as a space divider for both levels. On the ground floor, it divides the living and dining space from the kitchen, while upstairs it separates the master suite from two smaller bedrooms.

This staircase block, which also incorporates shelving and a bathroom, was built from wood, offering a warm contrast to the bare concrete. It is complemented by patterned rugs on the lower floor and wooden floors upstairs.

Generously sized windows give the home a modern and sophisticated look and feel. This includes one set into the corner of the building, and a pair of glass doors that open the living space up to the garden.

There is also a basement floor that provides the building with ample storage space.

Nunes de Oliveira founded his studio NOARQ in 2000 and has offices in Porto and Trofa in Portugal.




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