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NX House Design – Cascais Property
Cascais Building – design by ARX Portugal, architects
6 Jan 2009
Design: ARX Portugal, Architects
Photographs: FG + SG – Fotografia de Arquitectura
This house took a real long time to come through. From the 7 years total, three of them were for paying the land lot, two and a half years to license it and two and a half more to actually build the house. In this interval, the context changed radically. What was once an inclined land lot with a panoramic view over the sea, has become a strangled place amidst high buildings, sometimes up to 9-storeys, meanwhile built in the way, between the houses and the sea.
This outcome was nonetheless predictable, given the available building-plans and the idyllic real-estate paintings, once again isolating the products they wish to sell in an exclusive relationship to the country or the sea. This time it was the sea.
Knowing this, and despite the harsh nature of the starting ground, the house went looking for its inner self, getting ready for the worst-case scenario, still taking for granted the sea breeze and the walking distance to the beach.
Totally defined in the allotment building license, the house grows into three floors, the lowest being both the garage and storage area.
The “official” entrance is through the middle floor (in this way the lower floor “didn’t count”, despite its presence). One enters to the dinning-room…
The compulsory perimeter distances of the lot (3, 5 and 6 metres), common to any allotment across the country, force the compaction of the volume, releasing all around a “stripe” of land, usually residual and hardly usable.
The designing process was much a (re)search for the different possibilities of the indoor-outdoor spatial relations (we assume this is very much why one builds a house in the first place). Out-ins were created, broadening the spectrum of possibilities (like the intervals between the body of the staircase and the rest of the house). When dealing with the surroundings, managing the transparencies and opacities was a thorough and criterial filtering process. We manage to offer to the inner experience a suggestion of a fictional outdoor reality, meaning a selectively less constructed one than the one that actually exists.
In our will of cleanliness and search for a possible visual tranquillity, we positioned two patios in glazing tiles (a big one to the south and a smaller one to the north), to which the interiors generously open up. These areas open up to the exterior as well, in a more circumstantial and selective attitude, being at the same time shelter and window.
NX House Cascais images / information from ARX 060109
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