WEB EXTRA: Workbook: Contemporary in Portugal

Portuguese architect Nuno Lacerdo Lopes blends minimalism and warmth in a house in Valongo. Photography courtesy CNLL/Nelson Garrido | www.ngphoto.com.pt

For our summer issue, we’re taking a look out at some amazing residences around the world. With so many houses and so little space, we’re showcasing some of these stunning homes here. Up first, a house designed by Atelier Nuno Lacerdo Lopes in Valongo, Portugal. At first glance, it’s cooly contemporary, but a range of natural materials with a rustic feel, temper the starkness of its spaces. We talked with Lopes to get his thoughts on it.

What was the initial brief for this house?

The client requested a house to host his family. He wanted a special building that would stand in the surroundings without breaking with it—but with an outstanding architectural language.

Thematically, what was your focus?

There was a special concern with blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior, so that the living rooms, the kitchen and the gym/spa are extended outwards through large glass windows.

Were there any particular challenges in the design or construction process?

Yes. It was a difficult triangular lot within a complex suburban surrounding, [but] the client was amazing and allowed us to explore our ideas and to create this building.

Can you talk a little about the transparency versus opacity of the project?

In this project we have three levels of opacity. The opacity of the volumes balancing over the site and that enclose the interior space in relation to the surroundings. The glazed areas that bring the outdoors into the everyday experience of space. And translucent surfaces that filter the light and create privacy whenever it is desired.

What materials were primarily used?

They were used stone, concrete, plasterboard, solid walnut wood, painted iron sheet, zinc sheet, reinforced plaster, ETICS, porcelain mosaic, slab stone and cork acoustic insulation.

What guided their selection?

Rigorous proportions were at the heart of the design and the decision of the volume for the house. The programme was distributed according to the functional demands, guaranteeing, through the study of light, natural ventilation and circulation, a sequence of interior spaces that are differentiated and adapted to different uses, moments, experiences and sensations.

Can you discuss the wood structure on one wall?

A vertical wooden structure ensures the necessary shade, giving a rhythm to the entire east façade and safeguarding indoor privacy.

How about the sculpture that leads the way in?

The entrance, markedly created by a tear or opening between the volumes, provokes compression that is intensified by a sculpture that accompanies the entire length of the entrance. The sculpture is from a well-known Portuguese artist named Paulo Neves.

What is the key element that you’d like to share about this project?

Thought of as a large volume that is cut out and partitioned as a house, different spaces, scales, experiences and moments are proposed. The interplay of shadows on the façade, resulting from bringing bodies to the front or moving them to the back, provides a greater plastic richness in the design of the side elevations.

 

 

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