This is about our journey of bringing to life a 100-year old mansion in Goa, a picturesque little State in the South of India. If you like Portuguese mansions, renovating, all things old please accompany us on our journey of converting this stunning 1879 mansion from its dilapidated state to high-end Boutique hotel. This journey that at times seemed like a never ending battle against unrelenting challenges was also filled with love, hope and family.
When engaging an Architect, Antonio could look no further than his son Jonathan. They have worked incredibly well on a couple of projects together, building an exquisite 5 bedroom state of the art home overlooking the prestigious Concord golf course in Sydney as well as worked an extension of their current hotel Casablanca in Goa.
Jonathan studied architecture at Sydney University and won a number of awards right through his University degree such as the Dean’s list of academic excellence for 2 years, the Sir John Sulman Prize in Architectural excellence and the AIA Prize for Digital Innovation. His artistic ability does not lie only in his architectural work but he is also a gifted artist and his sculpture was selected to be displayed at the Information Pavilion at the famous Bondi Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.
Jonathan started his career working for Popov Bass Architects working on a number of projects in Sydney, the Philippines and now in New York. Young, talented and ambitious… I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of Jonathan and his work across the globe. Though Jonathan has now spread his wings and moved to New York, he is essentially a Goan by heart having his family roots in the serene village of Agacaim.
Antonio has a been enamored with Loulou aka Isla Van Damme’s work for several years. She embodies style, grace, creativity and a great sense of spirit. Lou Lou is a Belgian born interior designer whose work has featured in magazines such as Conde Nast and in the New York Times but what touched me most about Loulou was the warmth she exudes.
In Loulou’s words, her style is the mix of east and west, antique and contemporary, cozy – verging into a little kitsch and unusual with a twist and humor. Masala isÂ her style, with always a woman’s eye wide open to practicality andÂ easy maintenance but compromising little with aesthetics.
Loulou has worked on a number of high profile projects and in each case has created a masterpiece. Listed below are some of the links to her work. I for one cannot wait to see her weave her magic touch on this project and create another masterpiece.
Fontainhas is the old Latin quarter of Panjim, the capital city of Goa. A visit to Fontainhas feels like a journey through a pretty street in a European city with winding alleyways that are adorned with brightly coloured houses with red MangaloreÂ tiled-roofs. These charming, elegant houses, some dilapidated, others standing strong bring alive Goa’s Portuguese heritage.
Traditionally in Goa in pre-Portuguese times, the homes were inward-looking with small windows. The homes or mansions opened into courtyards, and rarely opened onto streets. This was because of the secluded role of a woman at that time.
However post the Portuguese settling in Goa, the homes or mansions are more outward-looking and ornamental, with balcÃµes (covered porches) and verandas facing the street. The balcÃµes are bordered by ornamental stucco mouldings that have their origins in the windows of Portuguese mansions which were used by sailors to identify their homes from a distance. The windows and doors alsoÂ gradually were more ornate and decorative and the typical red Mangalore tiles wereÂ used for the roofs.
During the Portuguese occupation of Goa no private mansion or building could be painted in white. Only churches and chapels enjoyed this privilege. Therefore every Portuguese home is painted in a different colour so that the mansion looked “dressed” and this displayed the economic status of the family. Families could be fined if their homes if their homes were not painted.
Now Let me try and describe our 1879 heritage listed mansion through my eyes. The outside structure is imposing and yet it has elegant and graceful. There are a number of windows on the ground and first floor which serve to bring light into the mansion butÂ the designed is so intricate that they make the whole mansion look captivating. Each window is arch shaped and is beautifully framed with bright yellow painted brickwork and ornate grills. There are cream pillars between the windows that offset the deep redÂ paint with the stucco mouldings to add depth to the structure. The detail to the outside structure continues with little blocks that are used to aesthetically divide the first and second floor on the outside of the mansion. The outside corners have thin cream pillars moulded around the angle to up to the first floor.
The inside is breathtaking with high ceilings, little niches to add character and depth and the floor tiles are a variety of old intricate Portuguese tiles.
Let me walk you through the inside of the mansion now. The main entrance is through the third lane off 31st January Road in this charming old part of Panjim. The structure from the outside is imposing and is currently painted a deep red with 2 charming ornate balconies on the first floor. Once you enter there are a couple of steps that lead you to a large room which will be converted into a reception/lounge area for the hotel. This room has high wooden ceilings and little niches that just add to old world charm that resonates through this mansion filled with character. The entrance has the traditional yellow and red Portuguese tiles and a wooden staircase leading to the first floor. There are 2 large bedrooms with ensuites to the right of the reception area. To the left hand side there are 2 steps which lead to little room which will be used as the breakfast area of the hotel which leads out into a garden area. On either side of that little room are 2 bedrooms and a kitchen. The outside has a charming well which is still functional.