U House, Ericeira, Portugal

La Casa U está situada en Ericeira, una reserva mundial de surf en Portugal. Con una superficie cubierta de 300 m2 ocupa un gran terreno rodeado por una malla densa de árboles, en lo alto de una colina con vistas a la bahía de San Lorenzo. El diseño de la casa surge de la necesidad de protección de los vientos dominantes, el viento del norte en el verano y el tormentoso viento del sur que trae el agua del mar en el invierno. La idea central era lograr un diseño basado en la reinterpretación de las antiguas casas de patio mediterráneas, creando un patio asentado en una meseta, abrazado por dos largos brazos interconectados por un tercer cuerpo, sin por ello omitir las fabulosas vistas hacia el oeste, incluso desde los espacios interiores.

The U House located in Ericeira, a World Surfing Reserve, was designed for José Gregório three times national Surf champion and a well known big wave rider, his wife and two daughters. This 300 Square meter house occupies a big lot, surrounded by a dense mesh of trees, on top of a hill overlooking Saint Lorenzo Bay. Our mutual interest in sustainability didn’t keep us from wholeheartedly embracing modern design. The goal was to avoid green pronouncements, allowing to achieve ascetics and exciting architecture solutions, instead of designing a building fully controlled by superfluous green technologies and merely aggregating raw materials.

The house design emerges from the inevitability of protection of prevailing winds. The north wind dominant in the summer and the stormy south wind dominant in the winter carrying the rain from the sea. Therefore the central idea was a design based in the reinterpretation of ancient’s Mediterranean patio houses, creating a patio sitting on a plateau embraced by two long arms interconnected by a third body, never ignoring the fabulous views to the west even in interior spaces. Abundant glazing brings in natural light while a high performance envelope controls temperatures. Eco-friendly Interior finishes and art work made from recycled materials take place in prominent places in the house.

The numerous sustainable features includes: cork has a primary isolation material, passive design (natural heating and cooling), floor and water heating by solar panels supported by biomass heating, microclimate environment created by the patio and the pool (pool water without chemical treatment) and rainwater harvesting (collected in a preexisting well) for irrigation proposes.

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The house’s success in harmonizing design, functionality and sustainability is augmented by its livability, extreme comfort and considerable savings in consumption of water and energy. Its humble size and careful design are a testament to the success balance of architecture with a prescriptive performance design.

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