This article is part of our new series "Material in Focus", where we ask architects to share with us their creative process through the choice of materials that define important parts of the construction of their buildings.
This station and command post located in the Serra do Alvão, Portugal functions as a technical building supporting the wind farm. Surrounded by a unique landscape with beautiful views of the valley, the place is known for being isolated and home to a rather hostile climate, exposed to strong winds and extreme temperatures. We talked with architects Ricardo and Sofia Senos of the M2.SENOS studio to learn more about their material choices and the challenges of the project.
What were the main materials you used for this project?
M2.SENOS: For the exterior, we used 20x10 granite stones, pine wood, and painted iron plates. The exterior gate was painted iron rod. The covering was made of charcoal colored sandwich panels and thermal bricks.
What were your main sources of inspiration and influence when you were choosing the materials used in the project?
M2.SENOS: The geological environment of the place was a great source of inspiration for this project: granite soil, made up of large rock formations, highlighting the texture marked by time. The shepherds in the area have already been influenced by this presence, building their small granite shelters to be impenetrable and monolithic.
Describe how decisions on materials influenced the design of the project.
M2.SENOS: The project had two particularities: it’s very technical and involves high levels of safety, but is almost completely self-managed (abandoned), in a majestic but inhospitable place, subject to very adverse climatic conditions.
What were the advantages that this material offered for the construction of the project?
M2.SENOS: A strong, timeless solution capable of resisting vandalism, ensuring the protection of the electrical equipment contained inside, with an ability to age, that helps to integrate the building with the surrounding space.
Did the choice of materials impose any kind of challenges to the project?
M2.SENOS: In designing the project, the choice of materials was already very clear or even essential. So formation process was almost natural. However, there were some budgetary constraints. By choosing higher cost materials, we had to find solutions that would mitigate these costs. So we found a way to use smaller cuts of granite which ended up being cheaper and less complicated. Also, the gate is made up of iron rods. We believe that constraints encourage creativity and we enjoy finding these types of solutions.
Did you ever consider the possibility of other materials for the project? If so, how would that have changed the project?
M2.SENOS: To this day we are not totally sure about the exterior. However, it seemed to us as well as to the promoters, the best option in terms of heating, without raising costs and being able to spend more on the other elements. We thought about possibly doing the roof in stone, but technically it was much more demanding, including structurally.
How did you research suppliers and builders suitable for materials used in the project?
M2.SENOS: In this case, most of the materials used were either very technical (interior) or local. So it was a relatively simple process to use small industries from the region.
Check out the full project below: