The origin of the word “ilha” is not yet known, but it is understood that from the 18th century onwards the word “ilha” was used to describe a type of architecture that was so well known in the city of Porto. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, Porto’s population had doubled. The poverty of the countryside caused thousands of families to leave the north of the country for the city of Porto in the hope that modern industry would improve their living conditions. With no money, these families rented small houses of between 9 and 16 square metres with no water, no electricity, sometimes no windows and communal bathrooms, which could serve up to 25 families. These houses were located at the back of bourgeois homes and the rents were very low, yet families of 5, 10 or 15 lived in such a small house.

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