QL House: Balance, integration, and dialogue with the landscape.

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

Hello dear readers, as you know, one of my goal through my blog is to give you an insight of the architecture industry and to stay update on the most incredible architectural project while getting inspired at the same time. Therefore, I am so happy to present to you the QL House. A bold residential house that lies on balance, integration, and dialogue within the space. I once again had the opportunity to interview on of the architectural firm's representative Vicente Gouveia who talked in depth about the project.

1- Can you give me some background detail about the project in general (location, opening date)?

Completed in July 2015, the QL House is located in one of the most exclusive areas of Algarve, on the Portuguese southern coast, an outstanding structure in an essentially residential neighborhood. From where it was erected it is possible to see captivating surroundings: golf courses, residences, and the Atlantic Ocean.

2- What was the inspiration behind the project?

The QL House project was an exercise in balancing spaces and landscape integration. The articulation of two overlapping and perpendicular spaces generated not only a particular spacial dynamic, but also different visual relations between full and empty, light and dark, caused by the dynamic of shadows between private areas, semi-private areas and the view of the surrounding landscape.

Two stories and a basement encapsulate a precise functional program: garden, swimming pool, sun room, living and dining room, bathrooms, a regular kitchen and a summer kitchen, four bedrooms, an office and space for a playroom.

Circulation takes place through a continuous stairway along the indoor garden, which illuminates all the indoor spaces in this home. This nuclear garden structures the direct interaction between the entire indoors and the outdoors, gifting all spaces of the QL House with the luxury of natural lighting.

The spaces were designed to create constant and singular relations between the indoor and outdoor spaces, in a permanent and multifaceted dialogue.

The bedrooms, on the first floor, face the green surrounding landscape, and take advantage of the terrace on the roof of the living room and summer kitchen in order to create areas for contemplation on the top floor. The space occupied by the bedrooms extends in both directions beyond the bounds of the first floor, hovering over the empty space, in a serene and quiet balance.

On one side, a balanced veranda greets the main entrance to the house, on the other side, a pergola provides shade for the living area by the pool and living room, making particularly hot summers more enjoyable.

The main entrance to the house is through a door of unusual dimensions, in line with the imposing scale - one of the singular features of this architectural piece.

3- What was your goals while building the house?

Our goals were creating dialogue, integration and balance.

The project was structured primarily with the goal of creating a dialogue between the user and the surroundings, valuing the relationship between the indoor and outdoor spaces, the creation of complicities between the user and the landscape.

The integration with the local culture and materials. We decide to use white concrete walls, to formalize the spaces in the QL House, in a chromatic mimicry of the buildings in this region of Portugal, therefore we designed with a particularly hot climate in mind.

The natural cork lining, a traditional Portuguese material, is articulated in the connection between the space and the land. The bedrooms, on the other hand, feature slats and motorized metallic shutters in their lateral openings, which filter light without making it impossible to contemplate the surrounding landscape, surely one of the valuable assets of the QL House.

The architectural piece should have the volumetric balance so that it could be singular in the landscape.

4- Can you describe your creative process. What steps does the studio take when you’re working through a project?

The studio doesn’t have a rigid creative process and it could change with the type of project that we have to do. However, there are several phases that we usually go through in the creative process.

Feeling – Primarily we need to feel the atmosphere of the site and the profile of our client/users. We need to create something that connect these two elements when the building is finished.

Research - Gathering existing information, data and materials that we needed for the project. In this phase, the contact with the client and the site are extremely important.

Concept - In this part the creative process starts. This phase is the process of understanding pure basics and thinking about the wholeness of the design. There is no detail in this part. It's mostly focused on the concepts.

Functional program - here we need to suit the functional program in the conceptual basis and validate it with each user.

Details - In this phase details and site-specific details happens. The good design is amplified by a good details phase. Also, we have to make their works suitable for the structural, electrical and other installations.

Construction - While the project is being built, there may be many changes due to unknown/ unavoidable circumstances. This phase is providing changes according to the construction on site.

5- How is this project different from the ones you did before?

This project was especially different because of the unique landscape surrounding the site. Allied to this characteristic, we had the happiness of having a client that gave us total freedom in the conceptual and creative process.

The good practice of architecture needs freedom.

6- What was the challenges that you may have faced while designing the space? 

The main challenges in this exercise were of several orders of magnitude.

From the conceptual point of view it had to do with the need to create a contemporary piece that would emerge the place in an integrated way with its near surroundings.

From the technical point of view, I refer by example some constructed elements that were challenging. The main facade console stands seven meters suspended as well as the six-meter-high entrance door that opens easily as a conventional door.

7- Did you work with developers or did you have the full control over the concept phase of a project?

We have the full control over the concept phase. However, because it is a dwelling house, the client was an important factor in the conceptual development of the project so that it adapted to its lifestyle.

8- What is your opinion regarding the architectural design and its evolution for the next 20 years?

In my opinion, the great evolution over the next 20 years in architectural design will be the introduction of new constructive processes based on technological development, which will combine the basic concepts of the construction process with more advanced materials and systems that allow sustainable buildings from an environmental, functional and energy-efficient point of view. From the volumetric point of view, the new materials will certainly be a catalyst for developing new forms, new textures of architectural design.

That's it guys I hope you enjoyed this article and that you loved learning more about the QL House as much as I did, this house inspired me in it's design and in the thinking process behind it. Love you guys and until next time, take care ♡

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