Casa Primo Madeira [Primo Madeira House] is the name assigned to the Porto University Circle, a noble facility that the University has in Campus 3 used for events of various kinds. This palace of the late 19th century is located at 877, Rua do Campo Alegre, in the parish of Massarelos, next to the Casa Burmester, also owned by the University of Porto. In its gardens, the romantic type of vegetation prevails, similar to other properties in the neighbourhood, such as the Casa Andresen, also owned by the U.Porto.
This palace, which was first owned by the Councillor Pedro Maria da Fonseca Araújo (1862-1922), underwent intervention works by the architect José Marques da Silva when it was purchased by Primo Monteiro Madeira, who named it. The main house is rectangular in shape and has four floors. The rooms were distributed as follows: in the basement, it had the kitchen, laundry, pantry and storage rooms; on the ground floor, a hallway, living rooms, billiards room, dining room and kitchen; on the first floor, the bedrooms and toilets; on the second floor, bedrooms and toilets for the staff.
In 1899, the house was expanded by building an annex with stables and coach house on the ground-floor and two more houses for the staff on the first floor. The garden had a service facility and a greenhouse.
Already owned by the U.Porto, the main house and other buildings were rebuilt between 1986 and 1988, following a project by the architect Fernando Távora. In 1990, this project received the João de Almada Award, for the recovery of the architectonic heritage of Porto. The romantic garden, inspired by the English, was also refurbished and adapted by the landscape architect Francisco Caldeira Cabral (1908-1992).
The works undertaken by the team led by Fernando Távora sought to respect the original design of the building, as well as the equipment inside it. In the basement, it had the kitchen, pantry, laundry, storage rooms and the facilities for the staff. The ground floor was used for social events as well as for meals and leisure. On the first floor, the rooms gave way to meeting or service rooms (secretariat and management) and the area on the second floor was split between the service staff, the sports hall and offices.
In the adjoining two-floor building, the ground floor was reserved for meeting rooms and the reception, and the upper floor for U.Porto guests. Most of the furniture and lamps are unique tailor-made items. Some furniture was purchased to equip certain rooms, and the University made good use of the drawings and paintings from the Porto Higher Institute of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Architecture to decorate the interiors.
The vegetation of the garden with inventories and certain species were preserved - such as the Cedrus atlântica (Atlas cedar), the Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) and the Platanus occidentalis (sycamore) - and the production area was replaced by a recreational area consisting of lawns and a formal garden.