Located in Coimbra, Portugal, Robalo Cordeiro House by João Mendes Ribeiro | The Hardt
Located in Coimbra, Portugal, Robalo Cordeiro House (2009) by João Mendes Ribeiro. The Robalo Cordeiro House, a single family house in Rua António José de Almeida, in Coimbra, is a two-story building (with attic and basement) that was, prior to the rehabilitation, deeply uncharacterized and in an advanced state of decay. The refurbishment and expansion project started therefore by the total demolition of the interior, recovering the facades and keeping the original external coatings. Except for the roof – where two new copper mansards were inserted next to a preexistent mansard – the main facade remained almost unaltered. The back facade suffered significant changes with the insertion of three new volumes: a concrete volume that extends the living room over the patio, a corten steel volume at the first-floor level and the third volume in Ipê wood in the top floor. In all three volumes a formal and material language, clearly differentiated from the preexistence, was sought after, underlining the intervention gesture.
The organization of the interior spaces, defined by a new iron and concrete composite structure, recuperates some of the preexistence characteristics, such as the location of interior stairs and pathways. In the ground floor, the house evolves from an entryway to the common spaces which – through a system of sliding panels – can be closed or left opened, communicating with each other with great flexibility. The private spaces are located on the upper floors, with two individual bedrooms, a closet and a study room on the first floor and the main bedroom, with closet and office on the top floor. The first-floor study room (corresponding to the corten steel volume prominent in the back facade) is a box entirely covered in birch plywood with folding shutters that, by revealing the existence of openings to the exterior, also work as furniture. The wooden volume in the top floor corresponds in turn to a small suspended patio connected to the main bedroom.
Copper House II by Studio Mumbai situated in Chondi, Maharashtra, India. The Hortus conclusus unites within itself a marvelous assemblage of disparate aspects. It seeks to understand the landscape it denies, explain the world it excludes, bring in the nature it fears and summarise all this in an architectural composition. The Enclosed Garden, Rob Aben, Saskia de Wit. The severe flood of Mumbai and its hinterland in 2005 had marked its high-water mark on a pump-house that was extant to the site. After using it to register the datum for the house, pile foundations were put in and a slab was cast two feet above the high-water line. The central fill came from the excavation for the well, and around a court, the house grew. The language and logic of the building are located in three primary architectural moves. The first is the creation of two distinct blocks, varying in width by a foot, separated by the stone-paved courtyard on the ground, and united by the cupric roof plane at the upper level. The two blocks function as discrete personal spaces on the upper level, one is a singular space of bedroom and bath, the other has an additional study.
At the ground level, an indoor family room becomes an adjunct to the main living space which does not have the containment that the other more private spaces exhibit. This main space functions literally as the deck of the house, overlooking the landscape and the courtyard, creating a simultaneity of vistas, each of a different scale and access. The copper-covered private spaces at the upper level are positioned in mutual tension, with the guarantee of simultaneous intimacy and isolation, so essential to the domestic interior. This spatial strategy also allows for varying levels of communication, visual and otherwise, between the upper and lower spaces of the house. In Kerala, further south from Mumbai along the west coast of the Indian peninsula (as in many other regions), the courtyard was the center of the traditional house.
The central room formed by the courtyard flanked by pillars was called the naalukettu. But the entire structure, comprising the central hall and the four wings around was also commonly referred to as the naalukettu. This reference to the courtyard as the house itself, holds a clue to the development of the design for this house, as it evolved from being an embracing structure to one which opened out. The second definitive move is the layering of light through a series of material gestures, each one tuned to the direction that light takes and the need for changing degrees of privacy. This is articulated with screening devices made of fine netting framed in traditionally crafted wood, fluted glass which diffuses the light and greenery and hints at the absent city, and sliding and folding wooden windows, all of which allow for degrees of seclusion.
The walls are finished in a celadon-colored traditional plaster, smooth like human skin, and crackled like the ancient Chinese glaze, giving the transitory appearance of a fragmented ceramic container, rectilinear and encased with a lid of weathered copper. The continuous copper roof plane forms a secondary datum for the house, becoming a surface of potential occupation and cover. The last is the inclusion of the element of water, whether in the form of the monsoon rain which is relentless in its action on material and mood, or in the form of the well, the stream and the pool beyond the house. The seasonal ‘anxiety’ of the ground is addressed in the manner in which the paving is worked out within the courtyard in a continuous linear fashion and in a loose ring around the house, with undulations registering the flow of rainwater as it reaches for the nearest point of exit. The entrance portal of the building is a non-place. Sitting beneath the first upper copper-wrapped container, it becomes a space of pause. In this house, with its Hortus conclusus acting both as container and sieve, the exploration of the rites of retreat, passage and exclusion are tested again. The final gesture was housing the massive rock which came as a gift from the owner’s mother, leaving it for time to take over, as time inevitably will.
Photos Courtesy of Studio Mumbai
The video shot by Daniele Marucci shows the relationship between architecture and the environment, the nature that surrounds it, the context in which it is located and how it reacts to different weather conditions.
It was filmed in India in July 2012 with a Canon 5D Mark II, and was part of the exhibition of the BSI Swiss Architectural Award 2012, which opened in September at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio (Switzerland).
Aesthetically and Geographically Related Projects:
Casa Cabo de Vila by spaceworkers located in Bitarães, Portugal | The Hardt
Casa Cabo de Vila by spaceworkers located in Bitarães, Portugal. The 3,659 ft² (340 m²) home was completed in 2015 the shape manifests through two concrete slabs with its concave sides, allowing a light glass and wood wall to unroll between them, which in a positive and negative game let the interior of the house communicate with the exterior. Cabo de Vila is a house for a young couple that wanted a house that doesn’t look like a regular house. When we first meet the place for the house, the approach to the location gives us the central mote for the project. We wanted a shape that can fill the void left by the valley and at the same time, we wanted this new shape to embrace and reflects the surrounding green areas giving its users a special perspective on the landscape.
Inside, the house reflects the way of living of his owners. The central courtyard welcomes anyone who enters the house and organizes all the common spaces around it like a no end space. Here, there are no barriers between the different spaces, only an organic geometry that establishes hierarchies between them and that allows mutual visual contact. The private spaces of the house are hidden behind a curtain wall that surrounds the courtyard as well as the garage and the service areas. Like in the common areas the main bedroom is a fluid space without doors, where the hierarchy of the relations between the closet the bathroom and the sleeping area shapes the space. With raw materials inside and outside, the house establishes a perfect connection with the surroundings ready to grow hold with nature.
Situated in London, UK, Pear Tree House (2012) by Edgley Design. The concept began with a 100-year-old pear tree, a remnant of the site’s history as a Victorian fruit orchard. The house has been built around the tree, creating an internal courtyard that brings light and air to the center of the plan, while turning the house inward to remain private from the surrounding terraced houses. The site is long and thin, and the layout is arranged around the changing light of the day, with the kitchen looking to the northeast for morning light, the living areas looking southwest onto the pear tree courtyard for light from midday, and the lowered snug in the centre of the building as a cosy retreat in the evening.
The Cresta by Jonathan Segal FAIA located in the wealthy beach city of La Jolla, San Diego, CA. The 5,300ft² (492 m²) home has 3-stories; 1 below and 2 above grade which are accented by floor to ceiling and large open expanses to the outdoors. The home constructed entirely out of “cast in place” concrete on a 5,000 ft²(464 m²) lot. Adjacent to the front of the structure a reflecting and swimming pool has been integrated into the overall design of the project for thermal cooling and create the perception of floating.
SOS Children’s Village In Djibouti Urko Sanchez Architects located in Tadjoura, Djibouti. Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa, which suffers from persistent droughts and severe scarcities. We were approached by SOS Kinderdorf to design a residential compound of 15 houses where to run their family-strengthening programmes. We learned about SOS systems, about the community where the project would take place, their nomadic traditions and the extreme climate of the region. We searched for traditional housing references in similar cultural and climatic environments and finally decided to design a MEDINA with certain singularities:
A – It is a medina for children – A safe environment, with no cars, where the narrow streets and squares become places to play
B – It is a medina with plenty of open spaces – Public and private spaces are clearly defined. And in the private, the inside and outside areas melt, allowing residents to maintain certain outdoors living.
C – It is a medina with lots of vegetation – Where the inhabitants are encouraged to take care of their plants and benefit from the result.
In terms of distribution, all houses follow the same scheme but are arranged in different ways, placed close to each other giving shade one another and generating alleys between them in an apparent disordered way. Natural ventilation and sun shading were intensely studied, introducing natural ventilation towers where needed.
The construction of this project was possible thanks to an international team, which reflects the mixture of backgrounds in the practice of our profession, making every project a very enriching experience.
– Dji Fu
Chinese Contractor based in Djibouti
Ugandan Architect based in Djibouti
Austrian Project Manager based in Kenya
Estrella de Andrés
Spanish Architect based in Kenya
Kenyan engineer based in Kenya
The funding came from the German Cooperation Aid. The materials were very simple: cement blocks, RC structure and Cemcrete finish from a South African company.