TI House, a 20-year history of an abandonment.
The house is in of Santo Tirso. We found a two-story contemporary house abandoned very close of its conclusion. It was a very solid concrete construction, with excellent infrastructures, but with many signs of vandalism and erosion.
The design of the elevations, as well as the interior space, was a kind of anarchic, however, the size of the house, its heigh and the space had a great untapped potential. We knew that with the right cuts, incisions and fills, we could get a great piece of architecture. The intervention involved a deep reconstructive, plastic, and aesthetic surgery.
Natural light digs into the walls. Artificial light was carved into the mass of the house, or just as, has always been done in the history of architecture, in a lighting object.
The construction budget was very limited (300k € in the beginning) to renovate 700 m2 of built area. We started by making a choice: eliminate all the excesses.
We coated the stained and vandalized stones of the floor with a mortar in the natural color of cement. We restored the original stucco of the walls. We demolished the suspended ceiling structures that artificialized the space. The original ceiling lanterns were remade with a circular shape. We closed with walls and slabs where the social space seemed to be open and without definition. We demolished walls where the spaces seemed fragmented and meaningless. We cut out the staircase to be aligned by the geometry of the space around.
The interior space also seemed uncontrolled to us, but after demolitions we got an inspiring variability of ceiling heights. Between the structures in concrete, there were a suspended iron structure that compromised the unity of the living area. The kitchen space, with double height ceiling, had also an iron suspended structure, which at the same time, was shaping a round ceiling. We removed it to leave the pure silence. The existing pool had no definition. We redesign it.
We opened new doors and windows on the walls and closed others. The architecture of the space should result as an excavation carved in the white mass of walls and ceilings and its gaps closed with apparent wood surfaces. No gloss. Natural materials in their true appearance. About the facades we took a decision: if it is possible only one span in glass each elevation.
This project is deeply embedded in a philosophy of integral sustainability. Sustainability respects the regional tradition; finds the local technologies and local materials, those that require less spend of resources and best reveals the identity of the landscape.
Portuguese architecture has always had a simple and sober expression. We think this house respects this tradition. The novelty of this house is to return to the essence of the history of Portuguese architecture: construction; space; scale and proportion. Only these essentials resist to time. The house was built in concrete, it was thermally insulated from the outside to protect itself from the weather, in a self-sufficient way to avoid the excessive energy consumption.
New here, I suppose, is the incorporation of the most innovative electrical technologies (lighting), air heating and cooling, kitchen smoke extraction in the simple and essential form of architecture. There are no visible installations, but they are all there. There is light but the light source is not visible. There is comfort, we feel it, but it is not apparent. What is essential is a clean, sculptural space, made of only one material, free of accessories – of complementary covering materials. The low emissivity double glazing of the openings was recessed to be shaded to achieve a passive architecture. The structural profiles of the windows and curtains are almost invisibly integrated. Everything has been thoughtfully incorporated, carefully detailed, to look simple (… it's not unfortunately).
ABOUT INCLUSION, RE-USE AND SUSTAINABILITY
As we explained before, all the essentials of the original house have been maintained. Unfortunately, many concrete structures were demolished, which were later broken into small pieces and used in the construction of the exterior concrete pavements. The removed iron structures were delivered to a metal recycling center. Most outdoor floors are permeable of low maintenance and with low water consumption. They are made with gravel of local granite and sometimes incorporate plants to fix the ground and naturalize the fence walls. The house was fully insulated with mineral wool. A large part of energy consumption is ensured by photovoltaic panels for electricity production installed in the rooftop.
Option for a structural, skeletal architecture; the use of local resources, materials, labor, technical and constructive means existing in the region or in the country and that do not require long distance transport, unnecessarily increasing the carbon footprint and; the system of the rainwater recovery network for garden treatment and exterior washing; the adoption of low consumption lighting solutions, or the same concern with low water consumption faucets and toilets, are some of our environment concerns.