A miracle of space within old walls: house in Azeitão
Location: Vendas de Azeitão (PT)
Azeitão lies on the edge of a large nature preserve a half hour’s drive south of Lisbon. The house stands a bit set back from the street and abuts a garden with orange trees to the west. To the north and east, its exterior walls stand directly on the border of the property, meaning they were to remain without windows.
However, in order to open the house to its environment, the architects added two large openings to the building’s shell: the 14-metre-wide west-facing ground-floor façade has been completely glazed, with the effect that the living space and garden flow seamlessly into each other. In the northeast corner, a small courtyard has been created inside the old walls. This lets light into the darkest area of the house. The desire for more daylight influenced the choice of materials as well: keeping the floors, walls and ceilings in white reflects the light. In many places, the architects have installed mirrored partition walls in order to enhance the visual quality of the space.
As in most houses the living area, kitchen, dining room and powder room are on the ground floor, while the bedrooms and two bathrooms are one floor up. The attic is designed as an open, undelimited gallery; its light comes through two skylights. Because the spaces on the first upper level do not take up the entire area of the house, in many places there are vertical spaces extending from the ground floor to the roof.
Large sections of the existing building have found new use in one form or another. The old roof truss has been reworked into terrace planks; the new truss has been covered with the old roof tiles. For the façade, the new plastering had to harmonize as well as possible with the remnants of the old plaster and mortar. Along with a manufacturer from the region, the architects developed a smooth plaster based on lime and pozzolan, which becomes increasingly hard with prolonged contact with the oxygen in the air. This plaster is dyed red and does not need to be painted. According to the humidity, Its hue changes from dusty rose to dark red; when it rains it is nearly black.