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Beyond the more or less two-dimensional plastic values that are traditionally associated to the faรงade, this fringe can be seen as a spatial entity within which the possibilities to live at a different scale are simultaneously recognized and explored. Manuel A. Mateus

Francesco Cacciatore

LIVING THE BOUNDARY Twelve houses by Aires Mateus & Associados

Acknowledgements. This study is the result of a research developed within the PhD Course in Architectural Design and Urban Analysis – XVIII Cycle – at the University of Catania, Faculty of Architecture, during the 2002-2005 period. The author would like to thank the entire Faculty Board for discussing the subjects this book concisely presents. The author would also like to thank Manuel Aires Mateus, Full Professor of Architectural Design at the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio, for authorizing the publication of pictures and drawings and for his foreword; Francisco Aires Mateus, Professor at the Academy of Architecture of Mendrisio; Jorge P. Silva, of Aires Mateus & Associados, for his commitment and assistance in finding, reorganizing and ordering some of the documents included in this book; Luigi Pellegrino whose forward-looking insight facilitated my meeting and spending time with Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus.


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Foreword by Manuel Aires Mateus Introduction

TWELVE EXPERIMENTAL HOUSES 1998-2008 19 31 39 49 59 67 75 83 91 97 107 113

House House House House House House House House House House House House

in in in in in in in in in in in in

Alenquer Alvalade Brejos de Azeitão Melídes Serra de Mira de Aire Sesimbra the Natural Park of Arrábida Alcácer do Sal Quinta do Lago Monsaraz São Brás de Alportel Coruche

LIVING THE BOUNDARY Representation of thickness and construction of interstitial space 119 122

Abstraction and partialization of the information levels Construction as the result of material, light and proportion



Titolo libro

FOREWORD by Manuel Aires Mateus

The design of a house always represents a sort of research project. Intense, for the familiarity we have with the program. Unique, for the specificity and peculiarity of each situation. Indeed, the house is the program we are most familiar with. Starting from well-defined constraints and possibilities, each house materializes through construction, defining its own function and appearance. Therefore, the question of materiality becomes crucial, as it defines a boundary, a well-defined field of forces, a new centrality. Considered in its inevitability, such field overruns its abstract meaning, the meaning that involves mathematics, and forces us to work inside it and understand its very potential. By designing from this new relational centre, it is possible to represent both the real world and the world we imagine, thus achieving an experience that acquires an allembracing value. Almost as a way of underlining the experimental role the program and the design of single family houses have in our particular design research and, at the same time, in contemporary architectural debate, this book by Francesco Cacciatore gathers the main single family house designs we have developed since the late Nineties. On one hand, each selected design defines different issues the main Foreword by Manuel Aires Mateus



Living the boundary


Titolo capitolo


Location: Alentejo, Portugal Architectural design: Manuel Aires Mateus, Francisco Aires Mateus Collaborators: M. R. Pinto, P. Marques Photographs: D. MalhĂŁo Surface: 200 sqm Completion date: 2000










The house and the archetype

The house marks a precise spot in a seemingly boundless site dotted by pine trees as far as the eye can see. The construction of this portion of space establishes and traces a boundary between indoor and outdoor, a boundary that is defined by the use of intermediate spaces with shapes that evoke archetypes recognizable in vernacular architecture. Yet, contrary to what happens usually, the volumes thus defined in the negative close an outdoor space that looks towards the interior. Like pieces modelled on the inverted faces of a mould, outdoor and indoor maintain a direct relation through the porticoed walls. These transition spaces are inscribed into the house’s square plan and cut into the built volume. All the outer faces are plastered white. The roof ’s borders are enriched by a cool stone crown interrupted either by loggias cut into the closed volume or by perpendicular lines that attract the warmth of sunrays into these cavities. The program is organized in an open and continuous service space with different uses defined by small support areas created into the outer, thicker and excavated perimeter walls. The way such interstitial areas defining the building’s boundary are represented expresses a clear intention to project them as solid volumes that are hollowed out in order to create an inner space, thus indicating that their material was first accumulated, then removed.

House in Alcácer do Sal


Around the void

In a site bounded by just two roads and by groups of nameless buildings, only the sky and the tops of the pine trees offer interesting views. The morphology of the ground was organized to make a courtyard accessible from below. All functions of the house are arranged around this void, a solid, ring-shaped wall built to protect the central space. The short sides of the rectangle contain the deepest parts of the building that contain, respectively, the sleeping area on one side and the large living room which joins the master bedroom on the other. The long sides are at the same time subtle entrance ways, passages, and

Location: Quinta do Lago, Portugal Architectural design: Manuel Aires Mateus, Francisco Aires Mateus Surface: 600 sqm Completion date: 2005

places that house all the service functions, such as the dining area, the kitchen, and the pantry. A swimming pool occupies the center of the mediation area. The elliptical opening of the patio faces the sky, casting natural light as time slowly passes. The northern and southern sides are reserved for the main functions of the house, such as the living room and bedrooms. The entire dining area opens out on the eastern side, while the vestibule stretches out on the more exposed western side. The structure, symmetrically, supports the building at two points with long overhangs that support themselves in both directions. The access point connecting to the lower area leads to a suburban garden, separate from the building, connecting the house to its surroundings.





Living the boundary

Under the patio canopy

Surrounded by open countryside dotted with olive and oak trees, facing the vast expanse of Lake Alqueva, the house demanded the construction of a central location, an essential mediation space between the interior and exterior of the building. The whole house is organized around this room: a covered patio that opens towards the liquid landscape of the body of water. Taking advantage of the lay of the land, a vaulted surface extends to cover the communal areas representing the heart of the house. A second inverted dome intersects, creating an opening that illuminates the space below from above and defines the geometry and the boundary. The attained spatial device very closely resembles the functionality of famous examples of Roman architecture. Moving away from this peripheral, outward-looking space, all domestic functions are carried out in the underground part of the house. The bedrooms all open onto circular private patios, while the kitchen, the dining area and the living room overlook the large, vaulted communal area. In this expansive natural landscape, the presence of the house is marked by the hollowed patios and the upper curve of the dome: the only visible elements, gleaming in luminescent white, on the borderline between the green countryside and the blue water. House in Monsaraz


Living the boundary  

Twelve houses by Aires Mateus & Associados

Living the boundary  

Twelve houses by Aires Mateus & Associados