The Varatojo House situated in Torres Vedras, Portugal is the 2014 winner of this city's Biennial Architecture Awards, and it is not difficult to see why. Perched on a hill east of the city, the house had been designed by Atelier Data to promote an intimate relationship between architecture and nature, focusing on the home's immediate environment.
This firm is no stranger to innovative and award-winning design. Atelier Data consists of a multi-disciplinary team situated in Lisbon and have been in the business since 2005. They believe that each individual project is the engine of its own investigation, allowing them to approach it from a critical and innovative perspective.
This philosophy is evident in the Varatojo House, which had been so designed to take full advantage of the polygonal plot on which it is situated. In addition to this, the design not only takes into consideration the natural environment, but uses it as fulcrum for the structure. Let's take a closer look!
The House Varatojo was built with the objective of promoting the relationship between the structure and the landscape, taking full advantage of the house's position on the hilltop. Placed on this hill east of the city of Torres Vedras, the house gains a favourable North/South sun exposure.
The material used in its construction also contributes to this aim, as can be seen in this picture. The house has a rusted appearance, giving the impression of a rusted building reclaimed by nature.
The vegetation in the garden is indigenous to the region and also included in the façade of the house. This brings about the sought after integration with the natural environment.
To take full of advantage of the polygonal shape of the plot on which the house is situated, the architects designed the structure in a spiral shape, with an outer limit that follows this design, gradually thickening into the main building. This enlarges the space available on the property and allows for all to experience the full beauty of the house and garden before even entering the building.
This outer limit also serves the house's goals of integration with nature and sustainability. The wooden pilings used for the spiralling boundary were railway sleepers in their former lives. This re-use of material represents an innovative and experimental approach which certainly contributed in winning the house its coveted awards.
The north side of the house looks out upon the city from the hilltop. To make the most of this, the north façade of the house is completely opened up by means of glass panels along the length of this side. The result is a stunning view of Torres Vedras from almost any part of the house. The living areas are consequently also open-plan to ensure this panoramic perspective.
Here we can see the living room space. The furniture is minimal on the concrete floor to ensure that the focal point remains the scenic view. Wooden elements complement modern white furniture and decoration is basic. There is a great sense of space, with a tall ceiling, white walls and the glass panelling.
As with the rest of the house, the kitchen is a no-fuss space with no ornamentation whatsoever. The kitchen counters are pitch black, which focuses it as a task area. At the back of the kitchen we can see the grand view continued. Cooking in this kitchen will be even more pleasant and relaxing with an environment like this!
To the left we can see the entire wall divided into streamlined white cabinets. This allows for optimum storage with the least cluttering of visual space. The lighting fixtures are fashioned in metal to provide a sense of industrial chic.
From this perspective we can see the dining room. Once again keeping to the minimalist aesthetic, the furnishings are simple and there is a distinct lack of ornamentation. The dining table is crafted from a lightly coloured wood and in a functional style. The chairs are fittingly white to create a pleasing visual contrast in the middle of the concrete room, whilst keeping in sync with the white walls.
Above and behind the dining room area we can see a loft space. This can be ideal for a study or other workroom area.
Coming to the bathroom, we find a modern yet tranquil space. The blackened walls provide a sense of privacy, which is naturally favoured for a bathroom. We see a large, built-in bathtub in which to recline at any time of day. Clever light fixtures are situated along the side of the bathtub to provide mood lighting when a relaxing bath after work is necessary.
The bathroom also looks to the outside through large windows, but privacy is ensured due to vegetation in front of this window. These plants are in fact the balcony of flora we saw in the first picture as part of the house's façade. The plants not only provide a sense of privacy, but also contributes to the serene atmosphere of the room.
On the lower level of the home comes a very pleasant surprise. Indoor pools are a hallmark of luxury, but due to modern technology and construction, are not that difficult to attain. The Varatojo House does, however, perfect this feature.
The pool takes up nearly the entire space available in the room, allowing a narrow strip of deck for relaxing beside the pool. Both lateral sides of the room consists of glass panels, which allows a view right through from the one side to the other. This is, in fact, how the architects wanted to create a transversal relation between the north side, which is the view, with the south side (the inner garden).
For more awesome indoor swimming pools, check out: The Best Of Indoor Pools.