Portuguese luxury home inspired by the simplicity of a child's drawing: The Wow Factor
What the house wants, the house gets.
And that’s how Portuguese architect Filipe Saraiva came up with the design of his own family home: a structure in the shape of pentagon surrounding a rectangle and two squares.
“The house wants to be that, simple like the child’s drawing,” says Saraiva of his residence in Ourem, 140 kilometres north of Lisbon, Portugal.
House in Ourem, as it’s called, measures just over 3,700 square feet over two levels. The first floor contains an open living room and kitchen area with a pantry, winery, as well as the master bedroom, a bathroom, laundry, technical area and garage. The second floor has two bedrooms, each with its own ensuite, an office and a man cave with a mezzanine. A lily-pond-like walkway leads to the home.
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Saraiva describes the house as eco-friendly with low energy costs assisted by the advantage of its south-facing location. In the winter, natural light warms the interior, while in the summer the house is cooled by the insulation. The timber pergola that extends from the front of the home towards the street has a slatted roof designed to soak up the sun and at the same time offer shade to inhabitants.
House in Ourem, completed in 2016, was constructed with iron, wood and black concrete used to blend the structure into the surrounding landscape, as well as to reduce maintenance costs. It cost $955,000 (Canadian) and took six months to design and build.
Saraiva, the principal of his firm Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos, answers a few questions about House in Orem.
Q: Explain how you took the inspiration from a child’s drawing?
A: When you ask a child anywhere in the world to draw a house, they all draw a simple representation that consists of five lines, plus a rectangle and two squares. The pentagon-shaped figure, which is composed of five lines, represents the walls and the roof. The rectangle is supposed to be the door, and the squares are the windows.
After finding a site and buying the land, we developed the design of the home. Soon it had a consistent form. We looked at the needs of the house and it only took a few days to design.
Q: How do you enjoy living in the house?
A: We love, above all, the visual extension of the living room to the exterior. This connection and flux between interior and exterior spaces allows us to experience different sensations and, even though we remain physically present in a single space, there’s a clear communication between both.
Q: What were the biggest challenges?
A: The conception of the constructive system, by far. This system consists of prefabricated pigmented concrete elements with built-in insulation, supported by a metal structure. The first and main obstacle was the idealization and composition of the structural system and the connection between the different materials — iron, concrete and wood.
The second added difficulty was the integration of a three-metre by three-metre structural module with the house’s living spaces that became the base of the whole project.
Q: Describe the design of the steps leading to the home.
A: The stones work like a raised walkway. The platforms are made of prefabricated concrete elements and symbolize ascending water lilies, rigorously positioned according to circulation fluxes and the space dynamics. The concrete water lilies are a sculpture that, while drawing space, they rise from the water until they flow with the interior. They represent order and reunite the four elements of nature — water through the water mirror, earth with the garden, fire materialized in the fire-pit, and the air.