Red Dar­ing

The at­ten­tion-grab­bing hue of this ru­ral Por­tuguese get­away by ar­chi­tect Luís Re­belo de An­drade is just one as­pect of its unique­ness. As Eliz­a­beth Pagli­a­colo re­ports, it also took just three months to erect, has flex­i­ble in­te­ri­ors and is em­i­nently self-su

Azure - - CONTENTS - By Eliz­a­beth Pagli­a­colo

A vi­brant, zero-en­ergy get­away makes its mark in ru­ral Por­tu­gal

The 500-hectare tract of land lacked a ge­o­desic marker or iden­ti­fy­ing em­blem. Ul­ti­mately, the ar­chi­tect had a thought: “The house should be the marker”

The first time ar­chi­tect Luís Re­belo de An­drade drove the hour from Lis­bon to what was then the fu­ture site of a client’s coun­try re­treat, he got lost. Her­dade da Con­sid­er­ada, the 500-hectare tract of land on which his client planned to build, is sit­u­ated in a for­est near the Sado River and close to Com­porta, a town con­sid­ered “the Cal­i­for­nia of Por­tu­gal” ever since Chris­tian Louboutin and Philippe Starck built va­ca­tion homes there. But the plot it­self is re­mote, en­com­pass­ing a vast land­scape of um­brella pines and cork oaks. At the time, it lacked a ge­o­desic marker or iden­ti­fy­ing em­blem. Even the owner and his fam­ily would find it dif­fi­cult to ori­ent them­selves in this ver­dant ex­panse. Ul­ti­mately, Re­belo de An­drade had a thought: “The house should be the marker.” Known as House 3000 be­cause of its vivid paint colour – RAL 3000, or Flame Red – the gable-roofed home is ar­che­typ­i­cal in shape. It also re­sem­bles an­other icon when all of its fold­ing shut­ters are sealed: the crim­son ho­tels of the board game Monopoly. Sim­plic­ity was a foun­da­tional con­cept. “Some­one I col­lab­o­rated with said, ‘Is this it? It looks like a kid’s draw­ing!’” re­calls Re­belo de An­drade. “Well, I’m a kid!” But the ar­chi­tect al­ways be­gins with a sim­ple idea when de­sign­ing a home, de­vel­op­ing its func­tions, fa­cil­i­ties and lay­outs, as he terms them, with the client’s needs in mind. The owner of House 3000 – a lawyer – em­braced the de­sign right away, a fact that de­lighted Re­belo de An­drade. The client had been a fan of his firm’s past work, which in­cludes Fra­grant House, a laneway home shrouded in 25 va­ri­eties of indige­nous plant life that emit fra­grances cu­rated for each res­i­den­tial zone – laven­der in the bed­rooms, saf­fron by the pool, etc. Re­belo de An­drade also de­signed the slate and wood-shin­gled Tree Houses that hover, seem­ingly with­out sup­port, in Pe­dras Sal­gadas Spa & Na­ture Park. So the client was es­pe­cially re­cep­tive to an icono­graphic home and farm build­ing (this is agri­cul­tural ter­rain) clad in cor­ru­gated metal painted a flam­ing red. But to fo­cus on the home’s vi­brant colour would be re­duc­tivist: House 3000 has so much more to rec­om­mend it. While he an­swered to his client, the ar­chi­tect also felt a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the land­scape. “You may own the

prop­erty,” he muses, “but you don’t own the land­scape.” This at­ti­tude, com­bined with the de­mands of the site, dic­tated a unique ap­proach. Be­cause the plot is five kilo­me­tres from the near­est util­ity – mak­ing it pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive to route elec­tric­ity to the res­i­dence – and its dis­tance from the city also com­pli­cated on­site con­struc­tion, Re­belo de An­drade de­signed the home for max­i­mum self-suf­fi­ciency. For ex­am­ple, the house is ori­ented for nat­u­ral day­light­ing and to avoid morn­ing smog, while the farm build­ing’s south-fac­ing roof is out­fit­ted with pho­to­voltaic pan­els and so­lar wa­ter heaters. Both struc­tures were built with cross-laminated tim­ber pan­els (as­sem­bled by Por­tu­gal’s Tisem and trucked in pre­fab­ri­cated to the site), then in­su­lated and wrapped in their vivid cladding. The con­struc­tion of the 400-square-me­tre project took three months. The firm was so com­mit­ted to meet­ing its Pas­sive House goals that it teamed up with the Univer­sity of Aveiro’s civil en­gi­neer­ing de­part­ment. “When we speak about en­ergy and these new green sys­tems, we find a lot of peo­ple who ‘blah, blah, blah,’ but in the end things aren’t done well,” says Re­belo de An­drade. “We wanted to en­sure this was a zero-en­ergy house, which is why we col­lab­o­rated with the univer­sity.” In­side, the main or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple is a cen­tral stair vol­ume, which is wrapped in wood. On one side is a cor­ri­dor and on the op­po­site is the lin­ear, dou­ble-height kitchen, which hugs a swath of win­dow and can be con­cealed from the fam­ily room with a move­able wooden wall. Up­stairs are three bath­rooms and four bed­rooms. Each space has a cal­i­brated view to the for­est and river set­ting – in­clud­ing the flamin­goes com­mon to the area. But the link be­tween House 3000 and its sur­round­ings is still in­com­plete. For Re­belo de An­drade, the land­scap­ing will be the ul­ti­mate con­nec­tor. The ar­chi­tect en­vi­sions a pain­ter’s palette of na­tive flower va­ri­eties in yel­low, white, pur­ple and pink. As with Fra­grant House, he an­tic­i­pates the “per­fumes” that these blooms will carry through­out the home. He also hopes to cu­rate a hy­brid vegetable gar­den and nurs­ery – be­cause that will make the home even more self-sus­tain­ing. Also, “it’s good for the soul,” he says. re­be­lode­an­drade.com

The firm was so com­mit­ted to meet­ing its sus­tain­abil­ity goals that it teamed up with the Univer­sity of Aveiro’s civil en­gi­neer­ing de­part­ment: “We wanted to en­sure this was a zero-en­ergy house”

Be­fore House 3000 was built on it, the re­mote plot was a vast, un­in­ter­rupted ex­panse of um­brella pines and cork oaks.

Abut­ting a cen­tral stair vol­ume, the house’s lin­ear, dou­ble-height kitchen can be con­cealed from the liv­ing area (op­po­site) with a move­able wooden wall.

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