Artur Almeida and Joana Costa

(380 - user rating)

We live in a reality which the architecture implementation is often invasive, not respecting the place, environment and natural landscape, but subduing them. Entering on the front line of this architecture “disease”, we consider this type of competitions/initiatives interesting, but essentially fundamental in the attempt to rewrite the relationship of modern architecture with the natural environment. So, is the primary objective of our Passive House to establish a more harmonious coexistence and ecological. Green architecture is for those who believe that the world is precious, that must be respected and preserved.
The lot consists of four distinct structures, allowing a greater adaptability to the morphology of the spaces, as well as the existing vegetation. Its foundations and related infrastructure are the least invasive as possible, trying to reduce the impact of construction on the ground. In addition to the required program, we decided to propose a garage, a greenhouse and a rainwater tank, since they constitute, in our view, an added functional and ecological value that we will explain later.
Considering that the construction process and their materials get a more harmful ecologically role in the architectural context, we find the choice of material essential in structuring the proposal. So, we decided to use wood, taking into account that is one of the most environmentally friendly construction system, and simultaneously a noble material. It is a renewable and natural material, with a simple transformation process, using very little power compared to traditional materials. At the same time, it is not harmful for people who build, for people who lives, nor for the environment. It is also economically feasible since it can use the local wood as supply. Thus, it is used as interior and exterior material of all the structures.
In addition, other parameters were considered in the search for a greener living. The solar orientation of the house to east and south focus the area with larger openings, as well as the greenhouse and the garden, for a better use of natural eating and lighting makes it more thermally efficient without excessive recourse to another type of energy. Solar panels enjoy the same solar orientation, being the house primary energy source. But, to be able to maintain these thermal conditions, we resorted to double glass in the doors and windows and a thermal-acoustic isolation (Isover), combined to keep the warm in the winter, and a constant and necessary value of humidity in the summer. The reuse of rainwater facilitated by the inclination adjacent to the roofing, enable a reduced use of potable water for garden irrigation and insanitary discharges. The house ventilation is made naturally, in a transversal and longitudinal way, through the lateral openings and the skylights, occasionally positioned over the house. All the interior spaces have natural illumination that can be controlled through the exterior shutters. Relatively for the construction of the greenhouse in the lot, the aim is to provide an organic garden and a composing process to allow production of vegetables and fruits and proper fertilization thereof. The objective is to make a home not only ecological but also self-sufficient.
From a disciplinary point of view, Efficiency and architectural beauty can coexist in a respectful and harmonious way. Since the proposal must consider the possibility of being produced in series and implemented in a several places or cities, we decided to pursue a formal and spatial simplicity, using ‘smooth’, linear and naturally ‘elegant’ lines. The equity shape of the different buildings allows them to ‘live’ symbiotically with the landscape that surrounds the present proposal, such that the wood establishes and intimate and natural relationship with the urban and rural context. Regarding the functioning of the internal space of the house, we decided to divide it in two distinct areas and floors, allowing two different and clearly identified, approaches. The entrance floor is composed by a number of common areas which are structured around a central cell that hosts an office, a kitchen, a stockroom and, obviously, a vertical access to the first and private floor. The circulation zone that surrounds the ground-floor is punctuated and limited by two living spaces, as one of them, for its solar disposition, is also a library. The entrance level takes on a permeable constitution in which the central divisions may be enclosed or expanded depending on the requirements and the desires of the users. The first floor incorporates a private area that is composed by two bedrooms with private bathroom and one balcony, assuming a more private and closed character that distance itself from the common area.
The final objective is to create a house that allows its users to be happy and enjoying a space that promotes pleasant experiences, without compromising the environmental integrity of the place in which it is built. The balanced relationship between what is built and what is nature goes beyond all the ecological considerations that can be made, transmitting an emotional wholeness to man allowing him to live in a more healthy way. So if we want architecture to respect environmentally the world that we live we must ECO IT!