- Project Coordinator: Orlando Sousa
- Collaborators: Joana Soeiro, Fernanda Sá, Sofia Conceição, Diogo Pinho, Susana Oliveira, Sara Pinto, Mariana Mendes, Erika Musci, Germano Viera, Pedro Afonso
- Engineering : Sprenplan
- Construction Company: Vodul
- Wood Construction: PORTILAME
- City: Darque
- Country: Portugal
Text description provided by the architects. The location is one of those places that we imagine no longer exists. Urban pressures, the passage of time and the resulting constraints, that often transform a specific locale from an interesting to a less interesting locale, have not affected this site’s essential existence or character. Cabedelo and its beach were perhaps better known in the past, due to the leisure activities on offer, the beach and local nightlife and entertainment.
We’re sure that the location, the sand dunes, the beach, the port and the sea will now enjoy a new lease of life - a dialogue that will engender a new way of life, new interests,better balance, in a transformation of nature, protecting and promoting it and thereby fostering more balanced use there of. This process is what is now called “sustainable”. The location is, and must be kept, sustainable. Sustainable in terms of ecology, urban planning, lifestyles and economic activity. Only by guaranteeing these levels of sustainability will it be possible to sustain that which is already sustainable.
The location has sand dunes, hollows, huge pine trees, new pine trees, abundant vegetation, including treelike shrubs and dense undergrowth. The sand dunes serve as protective barriers and also delineate the terrain, establishing a frontier between the hinterland and that which already pertains to the sea - our beloved Atlantic. Viewed from inland, the dunes mark the difference between the zone subject to the direct action of the sea - its physical, climactic and aural force and beauty. The dunes offer calm, relaxation and protection, and also tempt us to clamber over them and take a peek. We are always, always amazed by how different the sea, wind, sand and even ourselves appear, today and tomorrow.
Viewed from the sea, the sand dunes move, adapt, are adapted, create and correct a protective barrier against the raw strength and beauty of the sea, its waves, its humidity, which through a desire to disperse, flies with the wind - the omnipresent, biting north wind, that so often refreshens and constrains us. But on some days, the north wind and sea remain still. On these days, surfboards are no longer seen on the horizon. There is a pause, a temporary pause, because very soon, the strong wind whips up the waves, once again inviting surfboards, sails, and acrobatic manoeuvres. On the beach, lovers, critics, the curious, and those who can’t drum up the courage to join in the fun, find shelter or expose themselves for a brief moments to the force of nature - the unsustainable within the sustainable. Cabedelo was once a bigger summer resort than it is today. Distances are now shorter, as are our holidays, weekend breaks are now the most common form of holiday. The waves and wind form a pretext for a quick getaway - a weekend break invented mid-week.
The proposal is drawn up specifically for the location and proposed in function of its unique characteristics. The underlying elements of the idea include the land, its movements, the formation of the sand dunes, that give rise to others and lead us to the beach, the pine trees and other vegetation, the urban relationship and the desired programme. Someone once said and wrote that: the idea already exists in the location, which couldn’t be truer. It was necessary to travel to the locale, to be there and experience it at different moments of the day and under different weather conditions, in order to perceive and ascertain the idea - recognize and embrace it.
The idea or proposal has an underlying simplicity which I sincerely hope, as is often found with simple things, will be the main advantage brought to the locale, engendering its sustainability and the sustainable relationship with the idea. The objective is to create a hotel. The word, hotel, is not always connected to a positive intervention. For many years, and even today, the term is associated to a large building with many rooms, with a strong volumetric presence and hordes of people entering and leaving. The hotel is a temporary abode, in alternation with our principal residence, due to temporary needs and desires and if possible for leisure purposes. The intended hotel is a space designed primarily for pleasure, leisure, comfort and the living experience offered by this locale constituted by various locations. It won’t be a hotel along the lines described above. It will be a place of tranquility, occupied by a few people who live or stay in the differentiated and different spaces, able to meet with another in the various social venues, in light of their facilities and functions.
Upon our arrival we encounter the main entrance. The entrance for cars will be restricted to that which is strictly necessary for the unit’s essential functioning. Otherwise the entrance to the hotel will be on foot - obligatory, easy and pleasant. The technical access will be achieved from the road to the south of the unit. The main building, which has the largest volume, will house the technical and administrative services, a restaurant, bar and the large terrace. Taking advantage of the difference in height between the lower elevation of the ground and the higher elevation of the sand dune, a semi-subterranean floor will be created for technical functions. The social and meeting spaces for guests will rest upon the sand dune itself, making it possible to gaze out to sea, enjoy the sunset, and feel the wind.
There will be no hotel rooms as such, something rather different is intended. Small houses of different sizes, almost identical but only similar, will be assembled - carefully distributed between the pine trees, where there is sufficient space for them to be inserted. Further south, there will be a line of small apartments, erected on the sand dune itself, thereby solidifying and preserving it. In the centre, further back, but with good sun exposure, there will be a larger volume, integrated within the volumes of the other constructions and the sand dune - that will house a swimming pool and a facility today known as a SPA. This facility will make it possible to use and enjoy tranquil contact with water - which of course is not what everyone is looking for. By contrast, the sea will enable more radical contacts, whereas the swimming pool provides a calmer environment.
The materials to be used are already found in the locale – i.e. natural materials. Wooden constructions, assembled in the locale, adapted to the lie of the land, existing features, as if pre-planned. The materials to be used will be primarily wood, some glass, enabling the interior to extend into the exterior, and ensuring that the exteriors form an integral part of the interiors, offering comfort and privacy. The copper-sheet roof coverings guarantee waterproofing and above all will generate a natural colouring, that over time will draw closer to the existing natural colours. Other key materials are the existing expanses of green, all of which are to be maintained.
The idea is already present in the location. It’s a simple idea but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. This is a unique location which should be preserved as such. The idea aims to be unique, suited to this location, to this specific site.
The idea is in the location, one only has to see it. It only takes desire. It’s necessary to focus on this idea, in order to assemble it in our heads, and create it in our desires. The project will enable the idea to be transformed into reality.
A different hotel in Cabedelo. It feels like it already exists. It’s always been there, just waiting for the right opportunity.