Quinta do Buraco – House I


1993 - 1997


Portugal, Oliveira de Azeméis




On site there was a small stone ruin, with three compartments and this was the start. One compartment became the entrance hall, another, the kitchen and the third a dining room.
The hall gives access to a timber volume that accommodates the bedrooms on the western side, and also to the volume of the ruin which has been restored and integrated with the concrete volume of living room and library.

Outhouses and service areas have become a retaining wall to the North.
The independent volume of the studio and the garage is linked to the house by a sheltered walkway with a timber structure.
The slate covered roof unifies all of the volumes and accentuates the contrast with the flat roofed cubic volume of the living area.
Timber predominates in the structure and finishes and imparts character to the volumetric and organisational forms.

The permanent presence of this building in my daily life – my own house is a neighbour to it – forces me into a constant exercise of reflection that is almost obsessive and always fascinating.
I re-think the siting and the relationships with pre-existing structures and the site.
I re-think the volumes and question whether in their diversity they manage to convey a sense of the whole.

I re-think the use of materials and its hierarchy.
I re-think the detailing and the ‘leaks’, which are inevitable in any building, but always resolvable.
I re-think the windows and the shading, the textures of the materials and the finishes.
I re-think the use of the spaces, their functions and the experiences that they facilitate or impede.
-think how it may be to live inside it and also outside.
I re-think how it was when, nearly completed, I used to visit and how it is now, when they invite me to dinner, what it’s like to be there, how it is so ordinary and therefore so special.
I re-think how interesting this profession is.
I re-think what alterations would I make, if I was asked to, and if they should be done.
I re-think the things that I have re-thought before, in a constant critical exercise.

I think that the choice of timber was a good one and that its quality has been improving with time.
I think that the large slates were a better solution than copper sheeting, even though the waterproofing is less successful.
I think that quality cannot only be measured technically.
I think that technology needs only to be sufficient to ensure safety and functionality in a building. I think that one lives well in the house and that the people who live there are identified with it and that the house in turns reflects their modus vivendi.

Or is it the other way around?
I think that the house has benefited from time and that time has benefited from yet another house.

At least the owner’s and my own time…


Carlos Castanheira

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Carlos Castanheira

Ofiice in Portugal:

CC&CB – Architects, Lda.

Project Team:           

Maria Clara Bastai

Orlando Sousa




Engineering and Organization Projects, Lda.



Engineering Projects, Lda.

Construction Company:


Construction Area:

358, 40 m2


Fernando Guerra FG + SG

Fotografia de Arquitectura