The project of this house foresees both to reconstruct and augment a ruin into a weekend retreat at a plot with extraordinary morphological characteristics, within Cavado River and its tributary. The plot, of 4.060m2, is located in a protected natural area and has for conditions, from the clients, a concrete construction and the preservation of all trees. The constructive capacity was given by the existing ruin.
Since the first visit of the site it was clear we were dealing with a delicate project. The project placement on the plot was essential, given that the surroundings were the main reference for the construction.
Having practiced water-ski for 20 years, the river grounds the weekend house for the clients. For them, the exceptional outlook one enjoys should be an element of the house; for us, architects, should be an evident inside space value, but also, the opposite concern was relevant - the house could only act as a significant element on the landscape.
Having identified the site, a pragmatic analyse of the circumstances was in order: the demands of the program were a house for a couple and child, a visitor’s suit preferably dislocated from the house as also should be the storehouse for the water-ski activities holding a shower, bathroom and storage area.
The area of the house, inevitably small, was specified by the reduced dimension of the pre-existent ruin. Thus, the first sketches of the solution appear in its dependence, a delicate wood construction, and a new client constraint _ the house had to be in concrete:”due to wetlands, with winter rain land collapses so, the house has to be very resistant.” Meanwhile, the fundamental decision revealed itself through the house orientation. Its final location on site, at right angles to the slop, seeks for a better relation with the plot and the platform where it “lays”, avoiding all trees and damage to the outside area. The weightless intervention enhanced by the overhanging part that shoots off the riverbank cliff maximizes the transparent appearance from the river, reducing land occupancy.
As a stranded boat the house makes a dialectic reference to Adalberto Libera’s House Malaparte. The constructive system also inspired on naval construction, makes allusion to the remarkable Less table by Jean Nouvel.
As a half-buried house in its relation to the main access it appears diminished; on the other hand, from the river it appears as a glass frame dissimulated on the vegetation. The relation established by the house and ruin defines both the access and scale of the intervention, transforming the ruin into a constant presence on the inside of the house such as any other landscape element.
We trust on detail so to define global cohesion onto a project and give as much value to the detail of a door as to the entire global organization. We believe architecture to be based on a system of relations where all elements intervene.
Hardly the house area could stay with the initial 60m2 of ground footprint allowed at that protected area, hence the suspended, off the ground, third of the area increase.
Options are due to desired textures and its plasticity, along with the visual impression this ones suggest. Therefore, the house is externally all in concrete cautiously prepared with traditional pine wood boards which estereotomia was carefully drew in accordance with the scale of the surfaces and overall. On the inside, the house is covered with a sandwich panel of isolation and birch boards, walls and ceilings, producing a particular sense of comfort.
The windows are in aluminium, Vitrocsa system, with tempered glass given the thermal amplitudes. By the entrance, both window and door were drew and detailed for that purpose using standard aluminium pieces.
The constructive system was inspired on naval construction – in order to guarantee the transversal transparency of the living-room one had to achieve a relation between the construction system of boats and the house’s structure, since the solution of beam-walls for the cantilever was not viable. The building should be supported by the inferior slab, though like a moored boat, waiting to be loaded. Concrete slabs and walls assure a “fix box” guaranteeing the overall stability.
The concrete plasticity towards the luxuriant flora was determinant, thus the careful concrete cast drawing.
All inside pavement as well as the accessible roof are in grey self-levelled pavement. All volume is covered in birch as are the panels that separate kitchen from the eating area. Birch panels, isolation and metallic structure form the interior partition, spaces as bathroom and bedrooms. Some furniture such as beds were drew for this house and the rest was carefully chosen according to the house and clients.
One accesses the house on “Portuguese pavement” made of granite from the region and a stair of blocks from the same granite, as well as the stones that design the outside area in opus incertum stereotomy. All vegetation was kept and some more was sown. Through the less artificial and aggressive mode, lightning was strategically decided outside.
A granite existent ruin was recuperated and transformed into a storage area for water-skiing holding a bathroom, and on the first floor, a small guest area holding a bathroom and bedroom covered in birch as well.