Explore a Design Defined by Its Contrast

Set in the Portuguese neighbourhood of Tondela in the Viseu District is this architectural creation by firm Waataa. PD House is a private home with a distinctly raw feel, set in a context that’s not completely urban, nor completely rural, between a block of flats and single family home. Its architect Lucas Diz had to think outside the box with this design.

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PD House adds another string to the bow of Waataa, whose strings already include a supermarket, an office building, a studio apartment, and an isolated residential property. And not only that, PD House also marks a crucial test for Waataa’s philosophy of the importance of human relations when it comes to architectural design, which is emobdied in their very name Waataa: “We are all togehter around architecture”.

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Explore PD House, the home with a character marked by polarities: its bunker-like second floor is bold with raw concrete, yet it is approachable, even humble; its first and second floor contrast speaks to both sociability and privacy; its design accounts for both specific urban and rural balance its town finds itself in.

Second Impressions Aren’t Everything

We spoke to its architect, Lucas, about the creation of PD House.

THE PLUS: What kind of emotion does the building bring out?
Lucas Diz:
Overall I believe that there are no fixed emotions associated with each project because emotions are very specific and personalised feelings. We try to provide the conditions in which they may arise and develop. On first look, PD House prompts a feeling of strangeness, as though it is out of context. But on second look, the design becomes clearer and emotions start to emerge, such as the freedom provided by the windows, the feeling of protection in the bedroom, the comfort of the sun, the joy of the olive tree and lemon in the courtyard.

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TP: What’s the neighbourhood like?
LD:
The building is located in a consolidated, organised and well defined urban environment. The buildings (mainly residential) are ordered by the public street and placed centrally in the plot with well treated gardens and crops. Although it’s an urban environment, the social relations have a distinctly rural feel. There is a real bond between people. Almost everybody knows and cares about each other.

Second Impressions Aren’t Everything

TP: What inspired the building’s exterior shape?
LD:
We can say that no element or idea has particularly inspired the exterior shape of the building. The shape was being defined during the process while we were discerning over the several options. We wanted to enhance a rural kind of living, so we closed the building the most we could to the block of flats on the side. We desired to promote an active social life so we opened big sliding windows on the ground floor.

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TP: PD House is smaller than much of your previous work. What was it like working with a more restrained space?
LD:
We didn’t notice any particular difficulty, to be honest. As we always consider the materials, light, shadows, colours, scale and proportion; and as our projects are grounded on a stable and transversal basis, where the intertwining of context, idea and experience materialises every architectural work, the process was much similar to large scale works that we had designed before. It is basically a question of adaptating the process to the scale.

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TP: What do you like most about creating architecture with a raw feel?
LD:
For us, what we like the most is that it enhances the qualities of space, life and the experience. It is like we are focusing architecture to that which is most important: human life and relations. Besides this, we think that materials with a raw feel provide interesting textures, light and shadows effects and may increase emotions. Of course, all of this depends of the context and situation. We don´t like to use any particular material a priori.

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TP: How did you approach maximising the light?
LD:
Two distinct strategies were adopted. On the lower floor, as we wanted an open space, a fluid transition between interior-exterior and a maximum entrance of natural light, we designed opposite recessed big sliding windows in relation to the upper volume that provides sun shade and defines two covered exterior spaces (transition spaces). On the upper floor, privacy was the main objective. So, in order not to compromise this idea, we adopted high thin windows that are carved from the volume with a superior slate lean that maximises the entrance of light.

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TP: You’ve said architecture goes beyond aesthetics, and is about truth inherent in the materialisation of experience and idea. What was the experience like creating PD House?
LD:
As all the projects, the experience had its ups and downs, there were moments where we felt completely positive and that we were on the right path but also the instants of “despair” where we felt lost and didn´t know which options were better. The most satisfying moment was when we established the idea that would define the project. During the process, we had to take some steps back, reflect and then continue the development of the project. But it was on these moments that we have improved our skills as architects. In the end, and besides all the ups and downs, when we delivered the house and looked back to all the process, the experience was absolutely positive.

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TP: Are the clients happy?
LD:
Yes! At least for the feedback that they gave us, we think so. In fact, we can say that they felt the project was also their own because, after all, they were an active part of the team responsible for the designing and for the materialisation of the house.

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Planta Cobertura
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