Two Ponds Bookend This Concrete-and-Wood Residence in Portugal
Sited on a steep slope near a stream in Portugal’s famous Peneda-Gerês National Park in the northern part of the country, Gerês House by Carvalho Araújo is the reincarnation of a previously existing building. The home, previously at the top of the incline, was demolished and rebuilt to withstand the occasional landslides that occur in the area.
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The site overlooks the Caniçada Valley and has a stream winding down the site that connects a pond and at the top of the hillside to another pond at the bottom of the hill. Carvalho Araújo transformed both these ponds into natural, freeform pools.
The entry to the property is located at the top of the hill, where long straight stairs lead down from the driveway at the roof level into the entry courtyard, where a glass wall frames views of the living room and the landscape beyond.
The 10,226-square-feet concrete, steel, and glass house comprises two elements—a concrete base and a large, wooden volume that cantilevers over the land and the pond at the bottom of the hill.
The house consists of a large horizontal platform that extends over the landscape, and a vertical wall in an L shape that hugs the rocky ground, so it appears as if the house is embedded in its site.
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The volume of the house is defined by a light metal structure, which separates from the concrete elements, and works simultaneously as a connection between the two horizontal and vertical planes.
"We did not look for a conventional program, but rather broad, functional, and multipurpose spaces, where leisure and work can be mixed," says the studio’s founder Jose Manuel Carvalho Araújo, who explains that the idea for house originated through the desire to incorporate the two natural ponds on the site.
The social space of the house assumes a special importance and was located within a large central hall that extends to the outdoors through a large balcony.
The kitchen and services are on the same floor along this central hall. The more private spaces are located on the mezzanine level.
"The definition of small platforms along the ponds allowed us to structure the functional organization and paths of the land," says Araújo. "At the same time, it determined the relationship between the natural elements and the new construction."