André Eduardo Tavares

Rural house renovation

- Vale de Cambra - Portugal

The project is based in a rural construction, located in a valley where an almost abandoned village is starting to awake with small interventions designed for Rural Tourism, dispersed by the built structure and that begin to generate a whole new dynamic in terms of usage of the village, guided by the primary sector until some time ago.

The state of conservation of the pre-existing house was precarious (result from the long abandonment to which it was subject) and there were a few series of volumetric additions built in the last years of its occupation. These additions had a provisional and fragile character, not possessing constructive quality or architectural interest to be maintained.

The core of the house, built of stone masonry, also results from a volumetric evolution that began with a two-story volume and a dual pitched roof, which over time was successively increased until the construction of a second volume, placed in higher area, with a hip roof.

Since the house is implanted in a very inclined slope, it has direct access from the outside to the three floors and it’s served by two paths: the main one, at an upper level and where it can be approached by car, and another one, at a lower level and contiguous to the agricultural land.

The proposal did not seek to restore a specific historical moment. Based on the analysis of the various existing constructive elements and the addition of new ones, it was intended to build a new identity and a new relationship with the surrounding spaces.

The elevations were transformed with new openings and the building was extended in the ground floor level. For these transformations, the same constructive and compositional rules of the set, and the characteristic materials of the constructions of that time were used, seeking a coherence of the intervention in its relation with the pre-existence and with the near surroundings (for example, the use of slatted wood coatings and the presence of old typical granaries nearby).

The program was shaped by the primitive partitioning, often keeping its original use, except for the lower floor, previously intended for animal husbandry and which has now been converted into an autonomous housing unit.

The total accommodation capacity is 4 rooms divided into 2 autonomous units.

The state of conservation of the house did not allow the reuse of some elements such as flooring, interior and exterior frames or ceiling coatings, being the starting point of the intervention the reuse of the stone masonry, wood beams and roof structure.

A hierarchy was defined in the characterization of the spaces using two distinct detailing systems: the first, in the lower levels compartments, is characterized by the simplification of the encounters between materials, using grouts with additives of iron oxide “burned” with a trowel on the floor, limestone mineral plaster for the walls and ceilings leaving the beams visible. The second detailing system is found in compartments of wooden floors, making usage of wood finishes like skirting boards, trimmings, door frames and ceiling coatings with a traditional wooden design. The hierarchy in the detail, present in the Portuguese Popular Architecture, isn’t related to the importance of the compartment in this case, but to the constructive characteristics present in the space.

To guarantee the thermal comfort, it was necessary to build a resistant wall with thermal clay blocks, in the interior side of the stone masonry, with thermal insulation and an air box between the two. This resistant masonry system, which runs through both floors of each volume, rests on a ventilated ground floor built with prefabricated modules of polyethylene covered with reinforced concrete.

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