This home of a 19th-Century poet, converted to a contemporary literary center, was designed to feature volumes by famous writers from around Portugal.

The original structure had to be gutted, leaving only the exterior walls and the open question of what to do with the interior.

Designed by Manuel Maia Gomes (images by Fernando Guerra), the new wooden steps compliment the exposed ceiling beams and rafters, connecting visually up through the two stories the staircase spans.

Back-lit white shelves illuminate this navigational core, and provide a neutral backdrop for the thousands of books to be set on them at each level, all lifting off from a light-touch landing on an open white-walled first floor.