Home with Three Courtyards

04 / 05 / 2018
A project by Extrastudio.
Location: Pinheiros de Azeitão, Portugal
Architecture: João Caldeira Ferrão, João Costa Ribeiro, Madalena Atouguia, Daniela Freire, Anna Cañadell Mañé, Sónia Oliveira, Maria João Oliveira
Photography: Francisco Nogueira 
In Attitude edition 80, we interviewed the Lisbon architects studio, who spoke to us about the specifics of private projects: “the home, an apparently mundane programme, is always a unique challenge, as a result of the household, the urban context and the expectations in terms of living experience.” Now, it is Extrastudio’s turn to reveal what is hidden within Casa com Três Pátios – a family home located in Azeitão, close to Lisbon which, despite its ostensible normality, gradually surprises us with its warm tone, a natural charm and its delightful Mediterranean essence.

Regarding the client, what elements does this home reveal about their tastes and interests?
Both of the clients are agronomists, and so the relationship with the land and with a universe of rawer materials, which is part of our memory, was a common starting point for them. One of them has an important personal and professional relationship with the world of wine and beneath the main courtyard there is an octagonal volume – a wine cellar – built especially to accommodate a collection of rare 19th and 20th Century muscatel wines. It is a kind of small buried chapel. The only thing that betrays its presence is a round window in the main courtyard.


 
How important are the three courtyards to the creation of the space?
This home is located among other buildings, on a very narrow plot where side windows aren’t possible. The courtyards are crucial for bringing natural daylight into the home. Each patio also has a specific function. The smallest one mediates the space between the home and the street, allowing the home to be part of the village while simultaneously offering privacy from passers-by. The largest courtyard is at the centre of the home, a classical Mediterranean-style courtyard, where one can eat at night sheltered from the wind. The third courtyard is like a plateau; a garden raised by three metres where trees grow, connecting the home with the surrounding landscape, vineyards and nearby mountains.

What were the main challenges that presented themselves during the creative process? How were they overcome?
This project was adjudicated with a substantially low cost; the lowest bid received from among various contractors. Although all the parties concerned made an enormous effort, the budgetary limitations brought countless problems. The project was only completed successfully through the resilience and close supervision of all our team members and by the clients. 
 
In what way was this home particularly different from other homes you have designed up until now?
The home is located at the heart of a village on a plot that measures 20 by 6 metres, where most of the other homes have only one floor and belong to a different period, with its particular approach to building and where the relationship between people is very close. Developing a relationship with the village, understanding how the home is integrated, blending certain characteristics with the setting while reinforcing the home, or creating a distance without being ungraceful, without contrasts, was a new challenge for us.

Is there any particular detail you wold like to highlight?
During the building, the courtyards were almost finished in white, with a very smooth, polished surface, and with the interiors and exteriors being identical in this respect. Although they were perfect and, despite the initial reluctance of the clients, we realised the walls needed some colour and a rougher texture, bringing them closer to a stone or coral surface in order to establish an autonomous space. This set of different spaces ends up creating a gradation of atmospheres in the interior and are what end up making the home special.