quinta da laje house
This is a project to restore and enlarge a single-family dwelling that was initiated in 2004 with the actual building works carrying on until 2012. The property stands on a large tract of land in a rural environment characterised by a wide variety of vegetation.
The existing constructions included two volumes: an annex on the west which was practically in ruins and was used for agricultural purposes; and a house on the west attached to neighbouring buildings.
As regards the house, it is worth referring that it appears to have been enlarged more than once, each addition being ‘tacked on’ to the preceding one. The perfect integration in the locality seems to be the fruit of this type of development and of traditional constructions, bearing in mind the topographical and morphological drawbacks of the land.
A small courtyard provides the transition between the different platforms of land on which the two volumes are located. The sloping courtyard presents a rather unstable space given the existence of a number of rocky outcrops, although it does provide a solution for the different levels present here.
With the ambience described, the idea behind the project was to recover the site of the courtyard, given its position in the tradition of rural constructions and more specifically in the complex in question. The proposal consists in recuperating one of the existing constructions, the house, as this is the one that more or less consistently determines the frontier between the public and the private space.
More than maintaining the features of the past the idea was to preserve the character of the courtyard which between these two volumes occupies a reserved space that is sheltered from the outside.
The programmatic solution of the project required establishing a connecting element between the two constructions. This element consolidates the concept of the project and clarifies the spatial nature inside and outside the house.
The enlargement is a wooden box painted the colour of oxblood that breaks free from the land and from the days of long ago.
Hélio Pinto Alves