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Heading up DepA Architects based in Porto, Portugal are three amigos Carlos Azevedo, João Crisóstomo and Luís Sobral. Having met at Coimbra University at the Department of Architecture, also known as Dep A, this shortening was later to become the name of their architectural practice.
Formed in 2009, DepA functions as a highly collaborative team, where everyone’s input and creative effort is considered, and the client becomes an integral part of the process. Describing it as ‘active listening’, each project is approached on its own merit – including what architectural heritage needs to exist and where progressive design should be added.
An example of this would be to look at their additions to the urbanity of their homeland Portugal, in particular the House of Culture in Pinhel. The 18th century Bishop’s Palace was to undergo the next step of its occupation or to put it in DepA’s words the structure was to undergo ‘balances between the assurance of permanence of the original matrix of the building and the injection of a new dignity in its disfigured and misfitted interior layouts.’ This successful project sees the building retain its roots, scars and tactile characteristics, layered with a modern clean aesthetic.
This theme of active listening is again apparent on a recent project to reinvent a former 19th century foundry to a modern design guesthouse in Porto’s old town. The result is almost illusory – a hidden away guesthouse that belies its fascinating architecture located within. A desirable conflation, Na Travessa is the coexisting of weighty stone portals and heavy timbers with modern glazing, cement flooring, a high-arched atrium, zen garden and clean aesthetic.
It's a theme that works well in modern hospitality – check out their portfolio of sleek hotels, restaurants and apartments that borrow from the past creating that en pointe feeling of modern comfort.