Text description provided by the architects. Portugal is not a Mediterranean country, but the fact that it has been conquered by people from the south, Romans and Arabs, has left us with a southern culture and life style, where there is a balance between privacy and life in society.
The Alcabideche Social Complex is a housing complex promoted by the Fundação Social do Quadro Bancário (Social Foundation for the Banking Sector), of high quality in terms of construction and landscape, which aims to help to fill a gap in the elderly support system.
Located in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, next to what was a clandestine urban area and rural fields, with a total construction area of approximately 10.000 m2, the Social Complex of Alcabideche aims to reconstitute a Mediterranean life style in which the outdoor spaces of streets, plazas and gardens are like an extension of the house itself.
This project, concluded in 2012, using a regular layout with a modulation of 7.5m, supports an edified structure of 52 houses and a support building.
As in a Medina the streets of different widths are reserved for pedestrians who enjoy the protection of the shade provided by the houses by day and at night are guided by the light the houses give off.
The translucid roofs light up at the end of the day in groups of 10, alternately, over the area of the complex, subtly and evenly lighting up streets, plazas and gardens.
A calm but cheerful atmosphere is created that allows users to circulate at night among the different levels and spaces of the complex without worries or constraints.
The roofs of the housing units also have other functions. In the event of an emergency, users can activate an alarm that alerts the control station located in the central building and the box-shaped roof’s light changes from white to red.
Lastly the environmental balance inside the houses is due to the white box of the roof’s ability to reflect light and the thermal efficiency of the cushion of air created between the roof and the habitable area on the base of exposed concrete.
The central building, within the same modelling and principles, contains all of the common services necessary for proper functioning and quality of living.
The concern to recycle natural resources was also reflected in the use of water from a groundwater source, which appeared when the foundations were being dug, for irrigating the green areas and washing the roads and pavements, thereby also helping to reduce the cost of running the complex.