Renovated 16th-Century Church Building by Aires Mateus

Lisbon-based design studio Aires Mateus has finished the renovation of a vacant building in Portugal which was left in a dangerous state of disrepair. Situated in Coimbra, a metropolitan center nicknamed ‘the town of pupils,’ building work on the first ‘sacred trinity college’ started in the mid-16th century. The arrangement — photographed here by Nelson Garrido — includes a church along with practical areas required for student accommodation and instruction.

Led by brothers Manuel and Francisco, Aires Mateus started the renovation by adhering to a research of the site’s legacy and historical values. The design team sought to maintain the job’s ‘eternal’ components, including its excellent walls and domes while replacing the ‘ephemeral’ elements with a brand new steel structural system.

One characteristic that was kept was the door, which was finished around 1630. Internally, the plot’s pared down aesthetic highlights additional historical features during the renovation, together with all the building’s centerpiece — the church — fully restored.