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STRONGHOLD HOUSE, ILHA DA MADEIRA (2014-2015)

The small fort of São Sebastião do Portinho dos Reis Magos, built in the 19th century, has been abandoned since it lost its primarily defensive function, a long time ago.

Built entirely in basalt masonry and therefore seeming to rise from the rock on which it is located, this fort still is an isolated presence on the seafront, accompanied only by the ruin of an old manor house, at its back, and relatively far from the huge hotels that have been built in the surrounding area since the end of the 20th century.

With the change of times, the strategic location of this fort, speaking in military terms, gained a very different value, that of a contemplative relationship with the sea, and was acquired by a couple to be used as a weekend residence.

The house is organized in three bodies:

1. the ruined fort, which is restored;

2. a new body, which gives continuity to the volume of the fort;

3. a link, which articulates both.

The esplanade of the fort, that is its primordial element, now covered with an improvised concrete slab, will be restored as a living terrace. The place where the gunpowder magazine once existed will be occupied by a small volume that contains the kitchen, which doesn’t touch the walls, and appearing to hover above the ground.

The new body, built in exposed basalt concrete, contains the living room, where a long panoramic window frames the view of the sea, and the bedrooms, which form a turret. This body doubles the dimension of the plan of the fort North facade, in order to qualify the existing pathway, while extending its convex South facade in a concave plan that follows the topography, allowing one to leave the house and walk over the ridgeline of the rock to dive into the sea.

The entrance to the house is a small wooden bridge.

 

While, on the one hand, a new unitary ensemble is created, on the other hand, through the position, volume and materiality of the new body, the identity of the old fort and its unique relationship with the place, the sea and the landscape is enhanced.

 

Design Team:

Architecture: José Neves

Collaborators: Fernando Freire, André Matos