Text description provided by the architects. On the edge of suburban and rural, the site is located 8km north of Sintra, Portugal. This rectangular plot of 18x35m, for its shape, nearly flat topography and the insipid nature of its urban context, lacks significant references that could have given the project a specific point of departure.
To the east and the west two neighbouring houses of similar scale frame the plot along the south side of the residential cul de sac. To the south a derelict industrial building sits against the boundary, towards which the topography of the plot gently descends.
The programme comprises a three bedroom house over two floors.
Three ideas formed the basis of the project: a) compact footprint in order to maximize the garden area to the south; b) a self-established internal dialogue set by the co-existence of two volumes counterbalancing the lack of contextual references; c) the juxtaposition of the notions of volumetric solidity and spatial transparency.
The house is organised in two volumes, shifted across the plot. The volumes define two 5m wide external spaces that enable spatial depth and transparency to emerge through the solidity of the volumes, organizing the external space, and setting the relationship between the street, the house and the garden. One, facing the street, accommodates the pedestrian access, allowing the living room to survey the entrance and the master bedroom above to enjoy morning light through an east facing window. The other generates a south facing external patio serving the kitchen.
Internally, the gentle slope of the terrain is further expressed by the artificial topography articulating the spaces at ground floor level. From the main entrance (0.00), levels descend towards the living room (-0.70m), with kitchen and dining area at an intermediate level (-0.35). This provides a sense of increasing privacy through the spaces as ceiling heights augment the spatial generosity towards the main living area.
Living and dining area face the garden whilst the kitchen connects forecourt and garden, enlivening the front of the house whilst enjoying direct access to the interior of the plot. Upstairs, the north volume accommodates a master bedroom, a dressing room and a bathroom. The south volume contains two individual bedrooms sharing a south east facing terrace – enjoying the view of the distant horizon over the neighbouring properties. In between the volumes the stair connects entrance level and upper floor.
Externally, chimneys, terraces and roof lights add complexity to the whole whilst breaking the rigidity of the volumes.
A curved exposed concrete wall at the south of the plot emphasizes perspective and depth from the living area whilst creating a foreground to the neighbouring ruin. The concrete wall conceals two parking spaces and ancillary storage.
External walls are grey painted render, locally hand made ceramic tiles and local blue limestone. Windows and doors are in black powder coated aluminium and afzelia hardwood timber.
You can check a video of this project here.