Location: Macieira de Rates, Barcelos, Portugal
Design and Project Team: Pedro Santos and Tiago Azevedo
Site Area: 810 sqm
House Area: 220 sqm
Project Year: 2008
Construction Year: 2009–2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Arqu’s
Located in a countryside area typically composed by small farms, orchards, punctuated by the forest in the background and narrow roads surrounded by handmade stone walls, this house was created to fulfill the needs of a young couple and their small children. Therefore, the entire program was arranged so that the house could be easily lived in and out, making the best of the natural surroundings, without it being too invasive. So the spaces organize themselves on a single floor making the best of solar exposure and creating paths around and in between the house.
The site area made no room for big waste, and so did the client’s budget, who, early requested the use of local materials to keep the costs at the lowest possible and maintain the local identity using materials like pine wood, and brown schist which is very common in this region and is a regular material to be found in the old nearby constructions.
The house shows itself through one of its three volumes first – the living room appears in front and makes the bridge between the kitchen in the back and the bedrooms volume laying aside. The living room then rotates and adjusts to the plot creating a fluid continuity on the inside, as well as it defines a simple volumetric language on the outside. On the plan, it’s a square, sectioned into the needed spaces, with a small rotation on one of them. Then a secondary path is created in the middle were an inner garden takes form becoming an important aspect on the organization of spaces.
When one enters through the main door, all the paths become clear and the links between spaces make the best for a familiar living in harmony. The living room is served by different types of light during the day due to its orientation – in the morning, the sun appears shy through the inner garden’s window leaving only the path illuminated and the rest in a “standby” shadow; at the middle of the day the light is reflected to the inside by both the schist stone wall and the green lawn; and by the sunset, the fuzzy orange light glows on the big white wall coming through a thin window in the southwest corner. The bedroom “box” is turned south into a vine on top of a stone wall with a eucalyptus forest in the background.
Every aspect of the construction had a simple principle – to be affordable, durable and good to look at.