Friday 15 Apr 2011


Pinto Lighting Design was part of the design team for this interesting project, a residence + studio inhabited by a family of artists.

Pinto were asked to come up with a lighting scheme that uses the minimum energy possible. In order to achieve this they used the most energy efficient light sources available in the lighting Industry.

Examples are the use of linear fluorescent tubes in coves for ambient lighting, compact fluorescent lamps integrated with decorative lighting and LED sources integrated with downlights for accent lighting or with wall lights for ambient light.

In order to achieve extra gains in energy consumption all the light sources were equipped with high frequency gear and all the equipment was connected to a lighting control system that was programmed so the lights are on only when needed.

Castelo Branco was specially designed for the needs of the inhabitants - two artists with a high sense of aesthetic and interest in the art as a way of knowledge and a landscape with extreme climate between Castelo Branco town and the border with Spain. The site has a small river, land rocks and random vegetation with a unique sense of beauty. There are no trees except beside the river and a cliff dominates the site and allows 360º views.

The complex has an open field like a square that organizes all the spaces - interior, exterior and circulations. Functionally this void is equivalent to a medieval courtyard and is a place of light and shadow, between interior and exterior. The adjacent spaces are fragmented in blocks according to its functionality - from domestic to public including circulations. Volumes are distributed from the north to the south and from public to private, the first volumes seen from the entrance are the public ones that protect the domestic ones.

A narrative with aesthetic and functional objectives reveal a code: volumes that correspond to places to live / work in are grey and appeal to stableness with concrete blocks and steal frame with horizontal lines. On the opposite sense circulations are vibrant and dynamic since they are red, made of steal frames with vertical lines and designed with intricate geometry.

This complementary conjunction of materials and colours reflect the traditional houses of Castelo Branco, where walls are solid and made of grey stone with wooden doors and windows painted red. Red is the best colour to protect interiors from both extreme heat and cold weather due to its chromatic spectrum.

Sustainability is a very important issue and the house is organized in two levels to be integrated in the natural landscape. Majority of compartments face south and are properly shaded to receive natural light and heat in winter. In summer the building stays cool due to the geometry of balconies and louvers that create shadow. Natural transversal ventilation allows natural cooling of the building especially in the summer nights. Thermal mass from concrete walls helps creating a heat battery to prevent from excessive solar radiation in summer and minimizing heat losses from the interior in the winter. Low coast materials and constructive solutions also express sustainability and architecture without waste.

Architecture - Cláudia Melo