I went there for the first time many years ago. A pile of rubble and of briars, were all there was left of what once had been a village. Abandoned by people, abandoned by time.
My client liked the place because from it one sees the river estuary of Aveiro and the Atlantic. We are very high up, almost in the mountains of Serra da Freita, far away from the sea, apparently, so close.
Trebilhadouro is the name of the place and a few years back it became fashionable due to the so called “Celtic” music festival that started taking place there. This was enough to wake up the people in charge. Money was found and works of re-qualification, as they are called, took place.
The quality of the re-qualification works is disputable, but the briars were cleared away, paths were paved, infra-structure was introduced, lighting, neon lighting which was so delicate that it no longer works and the access road was upgraded. The houses have yet to be re-furbished. Those houses that already have had work done to them must now be re-furbished as the quality of what was done is poor.
The client, (I always say jokingly: “each client has his own folly”, and it’s true), persevered in his folly and purchased a house in Trebilhadouro and called me again.
“I bought a house in Trebilhadouro”, he told me. I went back to see. House?... A group of walls, of stones laid on top of each other. With an archaeologist’s eye one can tell that in times gone by, people and animals both lived there, in the same way as each other.
And the view and the silence; and the stones that become one with the lichens.
The walls that show signs of disintegration will have to be dismantled and re-built using the lost stones. It is necessary to put the structure right.
Those stones, when consolidated, will carry a timber structure, a floating frame. This way it will be possible to remain within the existing spaces which will hardly change.
The existing openings will be kept and new ones will be opened where necessary and none exist.
Inside, the spaces will remain as are and so will the bread oven and the fireplace for cooking. A bedroom and bathroom are added to complete the brief.
The entrance patio, known as a “cortil”, will be preserved and its walls improved.
The small garden to the rear, a steep outcrop of rock where two oak trees grow, will be a place to retire to, from a non-existent confusion.
On the roof there will be a terrace. One cannot deny a client the reward of a landscape which is beautiful as far as the horizon.
Follies are the privilege of good clients...and of architecture.
Ficha TécnicaProject: House of Trebilhadouro
Client: Antero Tavares Menezes Gandra
Location: Trebilhadouro- Rôge
Vale de Cambra – Portugal
Project Date: August 2008
Architecture proj: Carlos Castanheira
Carlos Castanheira & Clara Bastai, Arquitectos Ldª
Team: Luís Reis