This house extended by Nuno Brandão Costa used to be a very small rural stone building, formerly inhabited by a family of 11 members, that fit into the rough terrain of a large plot of land in Melgaço, in the interior of Minho, in northern Portugal. The powerful landscape and the character of the existing ruin suggested an extension to the house like a timeless construction, with no defined boundaries, but limited by the local materials.
The extension, which accommodates the lounge and three bedrooms, is an underground body which lets in natural light through the opening of a courtyard to the east, cut out from the land, and the west extension of the original façade: a granite wall made of stones from another local building since demolished.
The small house contains the dining and cooking areas on two floors, connected by an interior staircase against the north façade. To complete domestic life, three small bodies were built, independent of the main construction in terms of volume: to the east, a concrete canopy for car parking and protection, plus for storing firewood, and a glazed body for a small kitchen garden, while to the west, there is a swimming pool enclosed by a dressed stone wall to accommodate the tank.
The house has two distinct sides in shape and function: on the east side, the organic arrangement of the bodies and walls built into the terrain and their routine function confer a homely informality to the construction and on the west side, the relationship between the façades and the swimming pool tank creates an organic setting which eludes the period of each building and stabilises the relationship between the house and the landscape.
Design and info © Nuno Brandão Costa
Images © André Cepeda