Quinta Avial

Type: Transformation and Expansion of a Country House
Client: Private
Location: São Pedro do Sul, Portugal
Status: ongoing
Project Author: Maria Fradinho
Team: Sara Garcia

Project Date: 2022 – ongoing
Plot Area: 5100 m2
Implantation Area: 182 m2
Construction Area: 308 m2
Original Project Author: Unknown
3D Artist: Rafael Morais

The project is located in a plot with rural characteristics – a steeply sloping terraced vineyards called socalcos. It is exposed on the west side by the Vouga river.
Inspired by the rural context, Quinta Avial is a tourism enterprise that reinterprets the built environment, incorporating the archaic forms with modern lines. The stone walls, the existing building, the ruins, as well as the terraces define the essence of the place and provide spatial richness. The project distinctiveness is settled by the combination of these elements, assuming a permanent and harmonious relation between the pre-existence and the new architecture, ensuring a method of proximity and seeking for a respectful result.

The new proposal is based on the restoration of the pre-existing structures, enhancing and adapting them to new programmatic needs. The architectural composition is built upon three distinct moments. First and foremost, it is renovated the existing building to accommodate the rooms. From a spatial quality ideal, it is important to maintain as much as possible what exists and improve only if necessary. The purpose is neither losing the original character of the building nor the functionality of the programmatic needs. Thus, the conservation and restoration of the original construction system, the stone masonry, the interior structure and wooden finishes, and the traditional roof ceramic tiles are taken into consideration. Major interventions are made in the windows regularizing its scale to create a contemporary image and a regular rhythm.
Placed at the center of the composition and adjacent to the pre-existing building there is a ruin which is considered the strategic point to design the reception area. It also allows the articulation with the new extension to be built on the lower terrace. The volume “arises” from the ruin, as a concrete box inserted within the stone walls, as a new addition that peeks above the ruins. This articulation is also made by fusing materiality – stone and concrete – as a relevant strategy to enhance the old stone remains.

The volume in the south side is designed to incorporate the common areas. It is “buried” in the terrace itself, as a reinterpretation and integration of the surrounding landscape. It’s simple and discreet and it’s designed on a scale that does not disturb its surroundings – the original building and the landscape (views). That’s why it’s tucked into the terrace. Its own roof is used for the main entrance creating an atrium that allows events to happen. Its façade is framed by the stone walls and a large window to contemplate the landscape. The blending in the terrace is intended so it can appear hidden from the above level (street) and the lower level (pool area); its roof and façade lose prominence due to the uneven terraces and integration into the place, inviting the user to discover it. The main premise of the project is expressed by the transversal section, expressing the minimal and subtle additional forms, blending the new architecture in its surroundings.

The different materiality between the original building (stone) and the new intervention (concrete) is applied throughout the formal composition – a symbiosis of the “old and new” –, assuming the distinction between the two epochs of construction. From this relation we achieve an experience that enhances the atmosphere of the place through the subtle architecture. The choice of concrete reinforces this premise due to its rigid, neutral and contemporary characteristic, without superimpose with the built environment. The right choice of materiality is also reinforced in details such as the ones of handmade furniture (clay, wicker, rattan, and wood), that complementing and highlighting the atmosphere of a rural country house.
Quinta Avial is a project designed to be integrated with the site, fusing different realities together. The project writes current history without losing sight of past stories. It is ought to be the responsibilities of the architect to be sensitive to the unique qualities of a place and to enhance them, leaving a subtle yet respectful trace.