Even though the charming historic centres are the most visible face of refurbishments and reuse interventions, it seems that this architectural theme is fertile ground for implementation throughout the expansive 20th century peripheries surrounding our biggest cities.
In the last 50 years, urban sprawl has blended rural and urban territories in such a way that it is now nearly impossible to view such territories in this dual light. Dwellings located in these areas themselves are testimonies of this hybridization and informality that often goes hand in hand with soft compliance of building code and zoning regulation. These former rural plots were occupied by “warehouses “and these warehouses became houses once an extra floor was added to the logistical area. In time, the comfort requirements of contemporary living introduced successive improvements. The outcome saw the rural-based logistical use that was reserved for ground level appropriated for residential use.
These building processes seldomly have had the intervention of a designer and can be either odd or sometimes even surprising in their synthesis of vernacular sensibilities with modern possibilities.
oitoo was commissioned to propose a refurbishment for a house befitting this typology. The initial brief asking to answer the pressing need for thermal comfort and energy efficiency was upgraded to a comprehensive overhaul of the existing structure by seeking a new coherence. The first step was identifying the strategic issues to solve: the ground floor, originally an all-encompassing garage is now the living area, with insufficient clearance and a scattered layout; the back façade has little relation with the generous backyard; the backyard itself is cluttered with incongruous structures…
The updated brief asked for a space geared to hold large family gatherings. The proposal answers this requirement by creating a continuous living room and a new, generous, winter garden facing the backyard, inverting the hierarchy of what used to be “main” and “back”. As a consequence, convenience of use takes priority over public representation as the previous backyard becomes the core of a new private realm of family leisure.
The new addition, the double height winter garden, is the key to unlock this new hierarchy. It establishes the backyard as the main façade of the house: an intermediate space connecting ground floor, upper floor and the garden while simultaneously contributing for the passive climate control for all interior spaces.
Oliveira do Douro, Gaia, Portugal, 2019-2021
plot size: 1000sqm
gross built area: 300sqm
photo credits: adriano mura