· Architecture · · T. Editorial team · P. Fernando Guerra

RPFV House

In a dialogue with the land

On the land, located on a steep slope, there stood a house with schist walls, divided into two terraces, covered in slate, which extended onto the threshing floor, and a schist granary. Of the 1697 sqm plot only 600 sqm could be used for the construction of the RPFV House. The open corridor, from the street to the heart of the house, parallel to the large reception terrace, under which part of the house is hidden, takes you through the landscape of the south garden. The ground floor (level -2, below the street level) has been renovated and extended. Floor 1, balanced above the land, takes shape around the larger courtyard that is cut through by the ground floor courtyard, and is the liveliest space in the family day-to-day. To the north, the entrance to the covered parking area takes the inhabitants to the kitchen, through the sobriety of a long narrow corridor. To the south, the living room overlooks the garden. All you can see from the street is the third floor (the bedroom area) that partially overlaps the volume of the middle floor and gives shelter to the courtyard and the entrance door. The roof of the middle-floor, at the street level, is a large terrace from where the sights reach the sweeping landscape of the agricultural valley dominated by Monte Córdova.

This was a project with many setbacks along the way. Firstly because its localization is an agricultural reserve area, made it difficult for the Ministry of Agriculture to approve it. On the other hand, some ups and downs in the development of the construction «prevented it from being completes as quickly as was wanted», says architect José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira, CEO of the NOArq firm. The project, started in 2013, was only completed in early 2018.
This work has a series of challenges to contend with: the conviction that it would be possible to build in that place; the desire to place a new construction on the old walls of the partially disappeared house – «the building reveals these two sides, a renovation and a new construction. Only someone entering the building gets to feel this. The house is a challenging exercise in structural terms – the volumes comprise two impressive balancing acts: one corresponds to the body of the rooms, which is suspended over the central courtyard; the other, the volume of the dining room, kitchen and pantry, which protrudes out over the vineyard that fills the valley to the east».
Another challenge, was to build in slate – a very demanding stone, barely tolerant to less careful practices –, making the roof terrace preserve the original slabs of the threshing floor. You can see the date of 1851 engraved on a stone in the flooring and the façade also maintained the slate lining that characterised the house found here previously.

Architect José Carlos Nunes de Oliveira (left) and Bruno Brás (right)

Finally, it came to light the challenge of the window frames that give substance to the idea of void and extension of space, while at the same time providing shelter and comfort to the residents. In particular in its extension to the garage space, having allowed the transformation of a secondary space into a special, multipurpose space.  The difference is light. Nowadays glass focuses the best characteristics you could ever require from a building material: «more rigidity, safety and potential, compared to usual materials that build the garage doors», stresses the architect. 
There is the stigma that glass is fragile, but, once again, the work of the HYLINE team was exemplary. «We installed ‘pockets’ on the outer face of the façade walls and lined them with the slate. Water collection solutions were engineered in the upper part of these pockets, to guarantee against any infiltration behind this slate, collecting and sending water to the right place», explains Bruno Brás, BBA’s CEO. Also, on the garage, Bruno concluded that, «it is a heavy-duty door, it is open every day, and it has the same type of reading as a normal window, where there is no obstacle on the floor, no aluminium can be seen, because everything is completely built in». This is a door that closes at 90 degrees and is fully motorised. And the glass has extraordinary reflectivity, which makes it look like a ‘giant wall-painting’.
The HY40 system is HYLINE’s bestseller. It is a perfect system, which combines integrated flooring, making the aluminium invisible and with no interruption to the materials in the floor, which is complemented in several areas, from the structural part to the technological part. The doors are motorised, the floors and the rims inlaid, while the glass has very high energy efficiency. This is a way of enjoying a concept on the basis of what the architecture’s needs. Architects design and HYLINE finds a way to develop and transform. «With glass, you strive for the art of the pure visual; then, in structural terms, what no one wants to see, are the brackets of the window frames, the iron of fastenings; drainage systems in stainless steel and aluminium, which is the second most important component of the window. But all are of importance», concludes Bruno, who is the man behind the HYLINE system and, who, very soon, will launch three new products, two of them to be unveiled to the public at BATIMAT 2019 in November.
The base of the construction is a large concrete box. Subsequently all the frames were covered with thermal insulation, and with waterproofing, and then lined with a second inner wall coated with slate sheets. This stone was also chosen to cover everything that had to do with bathrooms, kitchens, etc.; a wood, which runs through the house; the ceilings, which are in plaster; and the coating on some stairs in microcement in the same colour as the walls.
What was once a house made of schist blocks has been transformed into a dark mass of slate in a perfect harmony with the surrounding nature.

Profile of the house in the eyes of the architect:
Gross floor area: 643 sqm
The project is: solid
Detail: directed light
Connection with: the land
Client: a happy encounter

Profile of the house in the eyes of Bruno Brás:
The project was: challenging
Technology: ambitious
Details: minimalism
Optimisation: of resources and people
Experience: amazing

Editorial team
T. Editorial team
P. Fernando Guerra