Portugal-based SAMI-arquitectos has designed a home by re-imagining the natural settings of Pico Island through a modern structure that embraces the topography and the ruins of the spot wholeheartedly.
The Portuguese architectural firm SAMI-arquitectos has made it a habit of conjuring up modern structures at unconventional spots. The firm’s Inês Vieira da Silva and Miguel Vieira have in the past few years led design efforts that have aimed at the modern re-imagination of the sometimes scraggy, volcanic soil-drenched grounds of the Pico Island, part of the Azores archipelago.
The E/C House on the island came to be through the smart inclusion of pre-existing natural structures and topographies in the design, no matter how unwieldy they may have seemed in isolation.
This project on the beauteous Pico Island in Portugal is in sync with the process of rehabilitation of the spot by constructing modern structures that challenge the architectural possibilities offered by the topography.
The E/C House has been realised at a patch where the 18th century ruins of a rural house used to be. Basalt stone remnants of this erstwhile structure were embraced in the modern re-imagination of the place, and the traditional rural construction style was retained to good effect too.
“Its typology is the most common in the island with the house in the first floor and storage for cereals and animals in the ground floor. Each rural house used to have a piece of land for cultivation,” states the team. A pastoral throwback was an essential demand of the clients as well, so the designers worked to retain as many elements of the past as possible.
That meant continuing the cultivation activity in the vicinity, as well as maintaining rough-edged paths and entry-points to the home. The natural textures around are multiple, as is to be expected at the island spots. There are intermittent patches of gravel and mud, grass and thicker vegetation, and then of course there is the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.
All of these elements come together to form the view that the home’s interiors never want to lose sight of. And, they also help enhance the sheer smoothness and consciously constructed shapes of the insides.
This is a holiday home for a couple, so basic comfort was of course a priority. The interiors exist in a minimalist landscape, dominated by light fawn wooden shades and clean white, a sort of trademark look espoused by the firm. These dominant hues are interspersed with light greys, and all around the textural statements are subtle.
This, again is a great element of restraint when there are stout stone walls staring into the rooms through the windows. To provide for natural light influx, the glass windows and walls are wide and tall, often also doubling up as exit points out into decks. Bedrooms occupy the lower floor, while up a staircase are the living and the kitchen areas.
Timber, with a lovely skin that is surprisingly evenly specked with dark spots, spans many a wall, forming storage cabinets and fixtures. The book case in the living room is a good example of how interior features were made to move around pre-existing structures – it winds itself around a glass window that looks out to a stone wall, and takes its overall shape from the angles of the gabled wall.
The home’s structure manoeuvres the unpredictable landscape outside created by the remains througha smart system of decks and platforms. These features make sure that the surroundings are in fact never too far from the reach of the eye, or the feet.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Paulo Catrica