“THE AZÓIA´S JEWEL HOUSE”.
intervention is located in “Sintra”, in the Village of “Azóia”, the westernmost
community in mainland Europe. It is a privileged area, located between
mountains and imposing cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, where the
magnificent Cape “Cabo da Roca” arises. The area is described by the acclaimed
poet “Luís Vaz de Camões” as
where land ends and sea begins and it was
elected, by Peace Blossom, as “an
inspirational place for Humanity to build a World in Peace and Harmony”.
At the top of the picturesque street “Rua do Bêco” lays the house. When it was first seen, it was indistinguishable from an old abandoned tightly packed stone wall, physically and visually impenetrable, entirely taken over by dense brambles and years of neglect.
Moved by the desire to give renewed use and meanings to old things valuing them, the architect believes that he has, in his most careful look, the gift of transforming what he touches. This ruin confirms this recovery / reconstruction sense.
He believes that a structured evolution does not rely in the radical and, sometimes egocentric, change proposed, but in a humble and wise holistic transformation, which respects the site’s full history.
This concept perceives Architecture as an evolution process, which as in nature, is interconnected in three main phases: Adaptation (immediate responses of the place); Transformation (reflection) and Crystallization (Creation). By this way it is intended a a consistent intervention, from which arises a harmonious place, not only with its context , but also with the intentions / claims of those who have created it. Only going through this process, can he consider the work to be authentic, respecting
The Spirit of the Place.
The Work Method
The architect’s work method is, as he assures us, intuitive. His real clients are the sites themselves. It is with them that he spends most of his time, “hearing them” carefully. They “speak softly” to him and tell him how they want to be rebuilt. The Architect takes on the role of “spokesman”, thus assumes as core onus knowing how to “listen” and to create in the unique places, what it may, or not, request.
The harsh climate of the site and the proximity of the surrounding houses compelled opening the house towards the West. Beyond providing protection from the strong winds and rains from the North, this orientation granted privacy regarding surrounding houses. It provides as well a wonderful view of the picturesque street “Rua do Bêco” and the Atlantic Ocean, whose amazing sunsets can be seen over a very clear horizon line.
The limited area of the lot heightened the architect’s creativity as he was prized to create pleasant outdoor spaces on all floors, surprising and delighting those who enjoy this home today.
Privacy and lots of natural light
The opening point of spans is revealed as you
get to know the house. Upon entering, although no window can be seen, one feels
the delightfully magic presence of indirect natural light flowing through the
spaces. Occasional gashes and strategically placed skylights allow the light to
sweep the walls, harmonizing the environment through gradients of light and
shadow resulting from organic shapes of walls and their smooth finishes with no
that invite you to come in. These openings ensure the
visual connection with the exterior. They act as picture frames of a constantly
The architect considers light as a common source of pollution. It is not physical or visual pollution, but sensorial pollution, which calls for his additional responsiveness. Light in this house emerges in planters, niches, shelves, stairs, and is usually hidden behind rafters, cascading so evenly that they seem to heat the space.
Glass is also widely used as physical, although not visual, separation and mirrors games enhance light reflections and seem to increase the amplitude of the spaces as an act of magic.
The architect believes that the simplicity of
the materials highlights the essence of his architecture, which he seeks
genuine and not
masked. He believes that the beauty of the
architecture, such as the beauty of the human being, is in its simplicity.
Knowledge and familiarity with the material expands its capabilities and constructive applications. A material used to his fullest potential can bring us endless ways to use it, sometimes deeming the use of other materials as unnecessary, enabling a greater harmony and minimizing construction costs. In this house, we can see materials, originally coarse and hard materials, recreated in smooth and supple forms.
Inspired by the nearby beaches, the architect devised the interior and exterior finish coating from the plaster in earth color. He uses the natural color of sand mixed with the, unusually used, white cement and lastly adds a bath of clear lacquer, which provides waterproofing and a smooth, satin feel to the house. The soft, light and warm color required was based on the reminiscent color of the original stone houses. It merges well with the other three elements as present in this place: the sky, the sea and the Fire.
As the house was developed, so did the decor. The holistic concept the architect believes in also takes these mergers into account. Understanding what the spaces of the house are asking for was the last step to take before completion.
Strategically placed objects belong where they are, conveying the spatial understanding developed from the beginning of the work. Ultimately, a new life redesigned and transformed to belong to this house as she returned to belong to the place.
Through his holistic concept, the architect worked the disorganized energies, using them, assimilating them and organizing them to form a specific structure with identity, creating beauty, truth and value.
The intervention sought to go further than building a home with nostalgic memories of the past, further than standard rash site assumptions. The aim was to understand the place through its intangible qualities, its myths, its legends, its policies and its humanity. The challenge for the architect was to infuse this intervention with the morphology of the place.
Interior Area: 264 m2
Total Land Area: 233 m2
Starting date: 2012
Work duration: 2 years
Location: Rua do Bêco, Azóia. Sintra, Portugal.
Architect: Pedro Quintela
Work in charge: Pedro Quintela
Photography: Giorgio Bordino
Text: Carla Silva
Facebook Page: Pedro Quintela Studio
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