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House in Possanco, Possanco, Portugal 
Monday 28 Nov 2011
 
White matter 
 
Fernando Guerra | FG+SG • ultimasreportagens.com 
 
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Award Entry

Exploring the paradigms of a regional architecture 

The cultural meeting point joining the house owners and the architects was based on their common interest: an undoubtedly contemporary architecture, but one whose nature and final expression would also be the outcome of research into the paradigms of the traditional architecture of the region, the Alentejo.

The implantation terrain of this small house, located in the village of Possanco, sets the transition area between the new urban strip and the protected agriculture zone. An extensive northbound plain ends far away at the Arrabida mountain ridge. Sparse water spots of the river Sado spreading, and the Atlantic Ocean defining the horizon complete this scenario of a bold pictorial expression.

The owners wanted a small holiday house that allowed a casual and relaxed enjoyment of their weekend when escaping urban everyday stress. The architects' minds were for so long populated by images of  so-called popular architecture, produced before the technological era.

They are small houses with sometimes asymmetric roofs, with one of the two garrets longer, almost disproportionate. These long roofs make the houses cozy during the extremely hot summers and yet sober in the winter. The presence of these houses on the Alentejo plains, allied to the whiteness of their lime painting bringing out an almost abstract figure, compose portraits of a singular and surprising beauty.

The first relevant constraint is the triangular shape of the small lot which, when applying the legal distance measures, almost does not allow any formal alternatives. Conceiving the house had still to face a paradox: the most interesting views stand to the north and not south, where the windows should be placed in their quest for light.

To the south there is the street, traffic and passersby whose view inside the house the owners wanted to avoid. These two aspects ended up being the key features of the project and the solution would end up being the introduction of yet another paradigm in traditional architecture: the patio to the passerby, the result is a house of deformed perspective, in axonometric projection.

In order to receive natural light to the south, the architects introduced in that long plan four patios: a central one, one in the living room, one in the social toilets and a final one near the children's room. Almost all facing north, the windows guide the views to the amazing landscape.

The architects explored the expressiveness of the white block and its abstract personality. The totality of the volume would be white, roofs included, where the patios resemble bluish excavations, enhancing delicately the strong character of the house. In fact, the building is done almost exclusively with the Alentejo repertoire: white matter, light-shade, thickness/mass, texture.

Indoors, rooms occur in between 'suggestions' of the traditional two-garret volume, and variations in scale and depth transform in each chamber the atmosphere of that intentionally sober inner world.

Architecture: ARX Portugal + Stefano Riva: José Mateus e Nuno Mateus c/ Stefano Riva, Paulo Rocha Engineerings: SAFRE, Estudos e Projectos de Engenharia Lda. Contractor: Raul Rico Area: 250 m2.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
ARX Portugal Arquitectos
www.arx.pt

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