SAMI Arquitectos make a modern abode out of rich country setting
Setubal-based Portuguese practice SAMI Arquitectos brought this 18th century abandoned house-barn in the Azores back to life with a sensitive redesign for a holiday home. E/C House sits within a ruin, formerly housing both previous owners and their livestock over two storeys. Now, the structure, which is just one of the practice’s renovation projects across the volcanic island of Pico, is the vacation retreat of a Coimbra-based family.
Located within a landscape rich in local heritage, the house was designed to maintain as many of its original features as possible. Adjacent to it is a piece of farmland (typical of the house-barns found on the island), which continues to be used for cultivation. The original home’s exterior basalt walls are also preserved. Redesigned access points, also made of basalt stone, mirror those of the old rural path
The internal arrangement hints to the structure’s original uses; social areas (integrated kitchen/dining room, separate living room and north-facing balconies) are situated on the first floor, where the family space used to be. At the same time, the bedrooms replace the areas where animals and food grain were kept, on the ground floor. This contains a master suite with ensuite bathroom, and three additional bedrooms with separate bathroom and storage room. Interiors are enveloped in wood and concrete, with furnishings made of local criptoméria wood.
Having to negotiate the relationship between old and new, as well as secure natural light throughout, the architects tweaked and shifted the original building’s lines where needed. Where existing stone openings were too small, for example, the intervening concrete walls offer larger ones, bringing in light and opening up to the surrounding landscape. Similarly, the first floor was completely redesigned and raised in order to get the best possible views. Wooden patios connect the old and new walls, whilst decked roofs provide contemplation spaces for the owners and their guests.