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The House in Martinhal is located in Sagres, Algarve, the furthest southwest location in Portugal. Martinhal is the town that hosted the Navigation School behind the “Portuguese Discoveries,” a name given to intensive maritime exploration by the Portuguese in the 15th century and initiated by Infante D. Henrique, Duke of Viseu, better known as Henry the Navigator.
The house is white, and the roofs are flat as they were often built in the traditional architecture of this area for drying fruits and fish, reminiscent of a particular architectural heritage that tourist resorts seem to have forgotten.
The highest and longest volume is located in the north to create and protect a central marble patio from the strong and permanent winds. An “L” -shaped bedroom wing helps to create privacy for the pool from the access road. Inside and outside spaces are articulated by courtyards, a typology from the Moorish legacy, while filtering views to selected fragments of untouched landscape.
There are some projects that incite the public’s reaction even before they come into existence. The Barreiro School of Technology is one of those examples. The neighborhood protested against the project because it wanted a primary school instead, which was moved elsewhere. Residents also expressed concern about the impact a building of large proportion would have, both visually and ecologically. Fearing that the trees would be cut down, they counted and marked every single one.
The building has a somewhat ambiguous character. On one hand, it “dissipates” and accepts the prevalence of the natural elements. On the other hand, it deals with their presence as an artificial element of abstract origin. This principle is highlighted by the constructive choices. When sectioned, a big coal-grey block reveals a white interior.
The architecture becomes more topographic in one of the building’s extremities, where there is no way to tell where the surrounding starts or ends. On the opposite side, with its more present limits, the architecture is defined by the alignment of the tops of the building’s different bodies.
ARX Portugal Arquitectos, founded by brothers Nuno and José Mateus
in 1991, has completed work ranging from private to public commissions
in Portugal and abroad, as well as for several international competitions. ARX´s work has earned several prizes, including recognition from The Chicago Athenaeum’s International Architecture Awards, the International Association of Art Critics’ Prize in Architecture, and a nomination for the Mies Van der Rohe Award.
All photographs by FG + SG - Architectural Photography® | and image by ARX Portugal

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