Obidos House

The house is in Praia del Rey on the outskirts of the historic city of Obidos. The area is characterised by neotraditional villas, old farms, golf courses and is surrounded by conifer forests.

The client’s brief to the architect was to create a clean modern sustainable house which would respond to its environment, enable the family to interact with each other, the landscape and surrounding countryside. The site faces south-west surrounded by trees overlooking a famous golf course and views of the Atlantic sea. It is accessed of a local road and the site slopes gently towards the golf course with a few mature conifer trees on the site itself.

The main pedestrian access off the road into the house is over a bridge into the ground floor. This is the heart of the house with the living areas. There is a separate access for cars to the lower ground floor under the bridge. This floor also houses the plant rooms, garage and wine store. The ground floor accommodates the living area, kitchen, utility, inside and outside dining areas and guest wing. The first floor which is via a double height naturally lit staircase accommodating three bedrooms, a master bedroom and a main bathroom.

The three storey building layout has been designed to facilitate maximum use of the south and west views from the site. The L-shaped plan of the ground floor wraps around an infinity pool with the dining areas and lounge directly facing the sea. The large overhang to these spaces enables solar protection from the Portuguese sun yet enables a seamless transition on to a large terraced area accessible from anywhere on the ground floor. The large glazed areas can be opened up as the windows slide into large pockets in the walls to enhance this connection. The interiors follow one another, link and relate visually, always offering distant perspectives and specific visual relations with the outside.

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Surrounding the house is a landscaped buffer zone which forms a real and visual link to the surrounding forest. To the west and south large indigenous mature trees have been planted with wild meadow grass for ground cover. The east and north zones have been planted with low shrubs and grasses to blend in with the golf course and to not obscure the views from the terrace. There is a glazed link between the dining area and kitchen enabling the landscape to relate to the terrace and allow sun light to penetrate deeper parts of the house.

Part of the philosophy of the design has been to face the lower ground floors in local stone as if sculptured from nature and with the contrasting first floor white box resting on it. This will be further enhanced with the landscaping which will be allowed to grow over the stone and envelop the ground floor. The window openings in the stone and on the public side have been made intentionally small to enhance privacy.This contrasts with the fenestration on the terraced west facade which has been maximised to enjoy the views and create a sense of openness.

The house has been designed to maximise passive solar gain without overheating. There is solar water heating, air source heat pumps for heating, large opening windows and sliding solar screens and internal blinds. This will enable all year comfort with minimal costs.

The home, full of light and privacy will hopefully ensure a positive experience for all its users in the future.

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