Where the Wild Things Aren't
"Nature to me is something quite frightening," says the diminutive Guilherme Vaz, as we walk around the expansive site of the Valley House, a weekend home the young architect designed for his father in the village of Vieira do Minho in the north of Portugal. "Nature is so strong here. I wanted all the natural things to be on the outside."
Vaz, whose practice is in Porto, harbors a city-dweller’s skepticism of nature. It may be beautiful, but it is also full of bugs that might trigger anaphylactic shock in your children. Vaz is not one to speak platitudes about blurring boundaries between inside and out, and in many ways, the Valley House is a bulwark of sorts: What is artificial is contained within this concrete shoebox of a building, and what’s wild is kept out, observable from generous terraces and huge windows.
Vaz took on this project while he was still a student, and his psychiatrist father proved an ideal client for an ambitious young architect. "He wasn’t really very interested. I would say to him, ‘I’m thinking of maybe four rooms instead of five.’ And he would say, ‘Oh,