House No. 5

Our clients acquired a plot of land in a detached housing suburb – a very common urban expansion typology in Portugal – that, despite its low density, fundamentally transforms the landscape: the ground is flattened, the trees removed, and the structures – house, garden, walls – form a compact, mineral, hygienic whole.

The brief for this design – a 3-bedroom house with a swimming pool – doesn’t differ from the one implemented on the neighbouring plots. The ground descends 7 m from the street to a thalweg, obliquely, which is particularly inconvenient; and precisely due to its inconvenience, we decided it should be preserved.

We studied several conformations for the house, always keeping the ground, as well as the tall pines that populate it, intact; and we understood that the design of the house could arise from the dialogue with the ground and the trees. The final solution is radically straightforward: the lower level is delimited by a contour – a diagonal line – which assures the levelling of the interior by the exterior, and offers the best view – a lush hill to the southwest. The upper level, free from the ground, follows the building limits as defined in the master plan, and extends as far as the trees allow. Each level conforms an autonomous volume that, through a process of selective mimesis, develops its own functional, spatial and material nature. The relationship between both volumes is ambiguous and impossible to grasp from a single viewpoint.

This process demonstrates that no territory is a blank sheet: a vacant land is no less charged with context, forces and idiosyncrasies than a medieval city, and both can indicate a singular, unexpected approach.

Title House No. 5 — Ericeira
Location Ericeira, Portugal
Built Area 450 m²
Site Area 1 080 m²
Conclusion 2017
Team Vasco Matias Correia, Patrícia Ferreira de Sousa, Sebastien Alfaiate, Tiago Garrido and Joana Ramos
Images Camarim