The project demonstrates how architecture can delicately integrate in nature. Designed by Graça Correia and Roberto Ragazzi, it is located on a plot bordering the Cavado River in the Gerês region of Portugal.
It elegantly composes with the natural surroundings, as its pure volumetric form with its concrete finish anchors itself on one side, and then protrudes in the air with an impressive cantilever that points toward the river. The generous use of glass reflects the image of the luscious flora and diminishes the presence of the house within the natural site.
Having practiced water-ski for 20 years on the river, the clients wanted a weekend house in that location. The original program called for the reconstruction and transformation of an old existing ruin into a weekend retreat. The program demanded a house for the couple, their child, a guest suite preferably separated from the house, and finally a storehouse for the water-ski activities including a shower, a bathroom and some storage area.
From their first visit to the site, it was obvious to the architects they we were dealing with a delicate project. To help identify the site’s intricate characteristics, a pragmatic analysis of the parameters was in order. The plot of 4.060 m2 is located in a protected natural area, obtained a building permit that demanded concrete as construction material as well as the preservation of all trees. The constructive capacity was given thanks to the existing ruin.
The placement on the plot was essential given the emphasis on preserving the surroundings. The house had to be built, keeping the vegetation intact while making the most out of the view.
The reduced dimensions of the pre-existent ruin defined the small area of the house. The fundamental concept of the cantilever originated from the orientation of the house within the site. Placing the house at a right angle to the slope produced a better integration within the plot. The smaller footprint minimizes the impact on the existing site and avoids the loss of any trees. The weightless intervention of the cantilever enhances the enjoyment of the view, as it shoots off towards the riverbank cliff.
Since it is half-buried, the house’s appearance is eclipsed when approached from the park. From the river, it appears as a glass frame dissimulated on the vegetation. The relationship between the house and ruin has defined the access to the house as well as its scale. The ruin has become a component of the house, to be looked at and appreciated as any other element in the landscape.
Project Name: House in Gerês
Location: Caniçada, Vieira do Minho
Built area: 150m2
Contractor: João Telmo Monteiro P. Ferreira
Architects: Graça Correia and Roberto Ragazzi. Project Team: Ana Neto Vieira, Susana Silva, Telmo Gomes, Katharina Wiederman, Pedro Gama
Structure and Foundation Engineer: GOP
Contruction: Almeidas & Magalhães, Lda
COMPLETION YEAR: 2006