How one couple created an architecture firm that is an ultimate one-stop-shop for building your dream home
Joana and Paulo Martins greet us with a smile as we come into their workplace. The new and modern office located in Lagoa was inaugurated in 2019, after more than 15 years in a smaller location downtown, and a long search for a space they could really call their own and shape to full embody what ProjSul – their architecture firm – is all about.
They met in Coimbra, where they were neighbours whilst attending university, and have been together ever since. Paulo is an Architect and Civil Engineer; Joana has a degree in International Relations, and they are bound by their love for each other and for architecture. “ProjSul was created to allow us to express that love and design beautiful buildings, but we were keenly aware that in Portugal, you need to hire several experts before you even start building anything. It can be a confusing and time-consuming process, especially if you are an expat,” Paulo tells us. “That’s why we wanted to do it all in-house, and thus became a sort of one-stop-shop where people can come, tells us what they want, and leave with a fully instructed project. All they have to do then is look for a builder, and if they want to, we can help and guide them through that search too, and with project management,” he adds.
As we glance through the stunning designs and facades of their portfolio, Joana tells us that she is the dreamer, whilst Paulo is more earth-bound. “Being a civil engineer as well as an architect – and in Portugal you need both to submit any building project – he can balance what the client wants design-wise, with what is doable from an engineering point of view, energy efficiency and so on. He always takes into account the living flow and daily needs of each person, family or business. And to this day, he treats every project as if it was that of our own home, our own business,” she says smiling.
“But don’t be mistaken, Joana has a massive role in our success,” Paulo says. “She is our PR, completely client-devoted, and knows the (hard-to-navigate) Portuguese legislation from top to bottom. Throughout these almost 20 years, she looks after our clients daily, and has opened and kept in place lines of communication with most of the region’s municipalities, which is of the utmost importance when there is an issue or a problem that needs to be worked out to have a certain project approved.”
As we leave ProjSul, with the amazing designs they have scattered throughout the region still in our minds, we can’t help but smile for, more than a successful architectural firm, this is a beautiful architectural love story.