LocationCastelo Branco, Portugal
Lighting DesignPedro Pinto
EngineerSílvio Baptista, António Mateus Filipe
Text description provided by the architects. Cláudia Melo (b. 1970, Lisbon) has an Architectural degree from FAUTL and a MSc in Environmental Design from the Bartlett School, UCL. She studied in Lisbon, Dublin and London and she collaborated with Pedro Mendes and Atelier Central. She started her practice in 2005 in Lisbon , that includes all types of buildings , from Housing to Renovation and large scale projects such as House for Elderly and Cultural Centre. Castelo Branco Residential and Ateliers has just being finished. She made several public presentations of her work in Portugal and abroad and published scientific articles about environmental design. She is also an architectural journalist for portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias.
The project of an house and ateliers for arts intend to create a complex to work and live rather than just a house. It was specially designed for the needs of the inhabitants - a couple of visual artists - and according to the site – a rude landscape with hot dry climate between Castelo Branco town and Spain. The specific site has a small river, land rocks and shallow vegetation with a unique sense of beauty. There are no trees except beside the river and a cliff dominates the site and allows 360o views. The construction is located here.
This complex to work and live has a center, an open field like a courtyard that organizes all the spaces – interior, exterior and circulations. Functionally this void is equivalent to a medieval cloister since is a place between interior and exterior that can be walked in all its extension. The adjacent spaces are fragmented in blocks according to its functionality - from domestic to public including circulations. Volumes are distributed from the north to the south and from public to private and first volumes seen from entrance are ateliers that protect the house. A narrative with aesthetic and functional objectives reveal a code : volumes that correspond to places to live / work are grey and appeal to stableness due to its finishings made of concrete blocks and steal plate with horizontal lines. On the opposite sense circulations are vibrant and dynamic since they are red, made of steal plates with vertical lines and designed with complex geometry.
The complementary conjunction of materials and colors reflect the traditional houses of Castelo Branco, where walls are solid, made of grey stone with wooden doors and windows painted red. Red is the best color to protect interiors from both extreme hot and cold weather due to its color spectrum.
Sustainability is a very important issue and house is organized in two levels to be integrated in the natural landscape. Majority of compartments face south and are properly shaded by geometry of balconies and louvres to receive natural light and heat gains in Winter thus avoiding it in Summer. Natural transversal ventilation allows natural cooling of building specially in the summer nights by night cooling. Thermal mass from concrete walls helps creating a heat battery to prevent from excessive solar radiation in Summer and minimizing heat losses from the interior in the Winter. Low cost materials and constructive solutions also express sustainability and architecture without waste.
On the first level the couple ́s bedroom has the bathroom integrated on it due to aesthetic, functional and sustainable reasons : bathroom is facing south throw a big window and is separated by the bedroom from large window doors. In Summer, these doors are open and natural ventilation is coming from outside to cool both bedroom and bathroom. In Winter doors close both spaces and a buffer zone is create in the bathroom to receive solar radiation from exterior thus introducing it into the bedroom by convection.
The rude landscape is now absorbing this new element and owners are living on it and printing their own time and space patterns. The building now belongs to all of them.