Architect: Pedro Rogado, Vasco Mendia
Location: Algarve, Portugal
Client: Dr.ª Liliana Palhinha
Interior Architecture: Pedro Mariguesa
Collaboration: Hugo Formiga, Maria Marques, Liliana Esperança, Joana Fonseca, Ana Lobo Faria
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: FG+SG – Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra
The lot is faced East by a golf course road, South by a lot where a single-family detached house is built, West by the golf course number 1 of Vilamoura, and finally North by a small public green space. Features of this site are the descending topography on the North-West direction, the visual relationship with the golf course to the West and the mountainous horizon towards North, the strong presence and morphology of trees – pine forest – and finally the specificity of urban and landscape surrounding territory.
The North-northwestern slope, the view of the golf course towards West and the hills to the North deter a favorable orientation towards South. In this way four axes are created upon which the existing pine trees superimpose. The latter deploy in the southern half of the plot where the slope is more accentuated, in contrast to the northern half where the slope is softer and trees inexistent. On that top part of the terrain interstitial spaces of land appear, small clearings in the woods, among the high canopies of the trees. The altimetry of these gaps allows a visual relationship with the golf course and the mountainous horizon to the North.
Two types of landscape mark the topography of the surrounding territory: the Limestone Algarve on the North towards the mountains and the Algarve coast area on the South. We retain the rugged physiognomy of the Limestone Algarve and the ancestral work of man to dominate the landscape by building walls of stone to subdue the rough terrain – socalcos. The Algarve coast area, where the urban plan of Vilamoura is implemented, is characterized by sandy slightly sloping land, on which groves of pine trees developed.
The Urban Plan of Vilamoura features a few characteristics of the Modern Movement. In the center, with wide public spaces and high buildings – matrix of the “Modern paradigm” – we can see constructions that use that language. Surrounding the center, other projects of lower height develop this kind of architecture. Further North, surrounding the golf courses and among the pine trees, unfolds another typical morphology of the modernist adventure– The Garden City.
The program for this 550 sqm, single-family detached house is organized as follows: two master bedrooms with private bathrooms coupled to a two stories library illuminated through a zenithal glass skylight framing the pines canopies and the sky above and two other bedrooms that share a bathroom and a small living room outline the private core of the house. A vestibule and a kitchen articulated with the dinning and main living room through a patio composes the public part. Under the ground, the circulations, services, and supporting areas are organized. On the outside, the interior is extended through terraces and patios of handmade tiles, and a swimming pool whose balneary and technical space are placed underground.
Integration and functional constraints forged the implantation. The program is divided in three independent volumes – public area, master bedrooms, and secondary bedrooms, filling the existing gaps (clearings) in order to establish a dialogue with the pre existing trees. The volumes are positioned at different heights in order to respect the natural slope of the terrain, allowing visual relationships with the surrounding landscape and catching solar light from the South.
The connections between these three independent volumes are developed underground as well as the playroom, the service room, the caretakers area, the support and visitors bathroom, the storage room, the technical space and the laundry. These areas are illuminated through various zenithal skylights, patios dug deep into the ground and windows leading to small terraces. From the topography of the surrounding territory, in addition to the above-mentioned relationships with the terrain, a more abstract reference to the socalcos is emphasized. The socalcos are traditional platforms of agricultural soil built of stone walls to retain the pending land. Thus the built volumes articulate with the terrain through three retaining walls of reinforced concrete which mark and reveal the topographic specificity.
Each of these walls is associated with a horizontal slab, thus defining the habitable spaces. The vertical walls and horizontal slabs articulate at the South side through a horizontal slit calculated to capture the solar illumination between the Summer Equinox and the Winter Equinox. The slabs extend in overhang to create continuity and a link between the interior and the exterior, and to provide protection against solar radiation and rainfall. The horizontal coverage allows the two further south blocks to benefit from the view towards West and North. Outside other concrete walls are designed to control the terrain and create different types of exterior spaces. The result is a contemporary language closely connected to “critical regionalism”, in which specific traditional and modernistic features are brought together, creating a tension between the characteristics of the plot itself, the urban language of Vilamoura and the surrounding landscape.