Casa no Gerês

Casa no Gerês in Gerês, Portugal by Graça Correia Arquitectos

The Peneda-Gerês National Park is the oldest protected area in Portugal (founded in 1971) and the only national park in the country. Situated in the far north near the Spanish border, the area receives a lot of rainfall and is therefore dense with rivers, wildlife, and small villages. The construction of six dams in the area of the Park also means the area is a popular tourist spot.

According to Wallpaper* the house of Micé and Eduardo Pinto Ferreira started when the couple discovered a 5,000 sm (1-1/4 acre) site by the Cávado River while water skiing in the National Park's waters. They were attracted to the desolate nature of the site -- forested and without neighboring buildings -- and chose Graça Correia and Roberto Ragazzi for the commission.

The architect's design is a dramatic one, a concrete bar that cantilevers for about a third of its length. This decision helps to minimize the footprint of the house while reaching out towards the water and inserting the occupants into the setting. The cantilevered tip is occupied by the dining area, with the kitchen sitting between it and the living and entry in the middle and the bedrooms in the rear. It's a fairly straightforward plan for an otherwise daring design.

Of course, dramatic or not, one must raise the issues of the siting of the house and its effect on its surroundings. Erosion is an issue, as are other site conditions, though the clients' stipulation that no trees be cut down indicates that -- along with the design itself -- minimal impact was the course. The remoteness of the house points to its use as a summer house, aligning it with local villagers who have two houses, spending winters in the village and summers in the mountains. This house definitely looks like a great place to spend a summer.