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 rehabilitation projects naturally work with the topography instead of against it, never overpowering the textures and hues present around. Local timber is used to deck up exterior and interior features, and big windows are employed all around to let in natural light and stay endlessly in touch with the surroundings. The projects are also designed to be highly energy-efficient.
The C/Z House on the island came to be through the smart inclusion of the pre-existing natural structure and topography in the design, no matter how unwieldy it may have seemed in isolation.
There is something oddly romantic about a stark modern building standing at peace with itself in the midst of a verdant natural setting. Unusual as it may seem, such a structure sometimes even manages to make the gravel and the slopes, the trees and the grass-and-dirt patches, look more special. Such is the case with the C/Z House, located on a lovely, quiet strip at São Roque do Pico on Pico Island in Azores, Portugal.
The home is a vision realised in darkened wood sourced from locally-grown Cryptomeria (Japanese cedar), opening up like linked cardboard boxes to embrace an undulating terrain. It is more length than height, and more simple elegance than splashes of colour.
The home was designed as a perfectly unassuming green structure whose views of the outside are separated only by glass divisions and little else. “This house was conceived in order to achieve an A+ rating in terms of energy efficiency,” states the team.
A pre-fabrication system, helped along by LSF structuring, was used to create the exterior walls, including 15 cm of rock wool insulation. The shipping and transport costs were significantly truncated by the fact that the owners chose to use building materials from their own woods on the island. The rectangular blocks of blackened timber extend out to form platforms and at the centre of the whole spread stands the living room in all glazed glory.
The other segments hold the kitchen and the dining sections, and the bedrooms and the bathrooms, as well as the garage. The spare, minimalist interiors of the home are warmed by an under-floor heating system, while solar panels help heat the water supply here.
The colour scheme inside continues the affinity with the deep dark, here contrasted by pristine white, wisps of grey from the rugs, and by wood from the furniture pieces. The sweeps of the rooms’ flooring are only minimally cut off by walls and divisions, the white walls are bare, and the lamps are simple and filled with genteel warm yellow light.
Viewed in parts, the C/Z House’s segments look like set-pieces from a classic black-and-white movie, brought into almost shimmering focus by the generous sheets of sunlight seeping through the glass windows. The rectangular windows, like the one looking out of the kitchen segment, offer brilliant peeps of the surroundings while also maintaining a good private distance. This balance is a sheer stroke of brilliance by the design team here.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs FG-architectural photographer