Part renovation, part addition and part conversion, where does the old end and the new begin? This design weaves together historic stone walls and fading red-tile roofs with newly-chiseled rock walls, fresh roofing, with limited modern highlights of wood, metal and glass throughout.
For fans of ‘truth in architecture’ this may sound dangerously close to kitsch, but the results speak for themselves: the resulting house is richly detailed, organic and beautiful all around.
Set in Portugal, the building draws on the decorative traditions of Spanish architecture and has a central courtyard like the traditional Italian villas of ancient Rome.
Throughout the complex are a series of seamless transitions between structures that predate the current occupants and new elements – everything is tied together in a look and layout designed to accommodate a modern lifestyle in a rustic setting.
The new ‘layer’ of functions was added by architect Manuel Ribeiro (photos by Ivo Tavares) in response to contemporary dwelling needs, but with respect for the historic fabric of the site as well as regional styles, traditions and materials.
Wood trim and rafters recall local traditions and bring warmth to the stone-dominated design. Wooden bridges and doors are also used to span and connect between structurally-independent zones, giving the feel of a series of interlaced buildings rather than an overwhelming mansion-style complex.
In places, one almost gets the sense of walking through a historic cave or piece of ancient architecture requiring careful presentation – the experience of the heavy masonry walls is mediated by newer materials that seem inserted into the existing spaces. In other areas, the house seems simple, rustic and comfortable – a nice place for a vacation rental or cozy private retreat.