Nestled amongst wild thyme and rosemary in the picturesque landscape of the Algarve coast, this energy-efficient house was built by CORE Architects for a retired German couple in 2019/20. The first words uttered by every person to visit this new build are: “but the house doesn’t sit straight on its hill!” Why? Because that’s what makes it stand out from all the others in the neighbourhood and what provides it with face-on ocean views and year-round sunshine.
The first steps
Following CORE Architect’s signature detailed bioclimatic study, which they carry out to identify the prevailing winds and maximum solar impact, their team set about creating a design that would transform the terrain into an oasis of wellbeing over two floors, providing a comfortable, modern pad for the couple. And one of the critical factors the study provided for? The house’s characteristic rotation, which was found to be essential to maximising its energy performance. The house turned towards the sun, its terraces facing away from it, creates non-symmetrical diagonal lines that manage its heat efficiency by allowing for an interplay between sun and shade and for shelter to be provided against dominant winds – a significant concern in the area.
To maximise a building’s energy efficiency, Passive House principles need to be worked in from the ground up – the positioning of the house, for example – but the materials used also play a huge role. CORE Architects always strives to use the most efficient, environmentally friendly, locally sourced building materials to cut down on every building’s carbon footprint and the toxicity of the materials present in a home. This build included thermal clay tiles and clay plaster known to be doubly as efficient as standard bricks and plaster, and cork insulation, a 100% organic, extremely efficient form of insulation sourced in our very own Algarve.
The house was designed for a myriad of occasions. A kitchenette and spacious bathroom make the upper level a self-contained unit. A sleek white Corian® staircase then leads down to the private area, which contains an open plan kitchen and dining room, outdoor terraces and a swimming pool, as well as the master bedroom, which is west-facing and catches the morning sun. Both stories are equipped with an entertaining area, bathroom and kitchen, and both provide stunning outdoor spaces with pools and sun terraces.
The design required the house to be set into a steep slope, with the surrounding garden adapted around it. Open façades, looking out over panoramic views of the sea to the south, were designed to sport large, double-glazed windows with built-in sun protection to allow natural light to flow into the house without overheating in the hot summers. These requirements and a need for modern convenience shaped this design, keeping it ever faithful to the natural, authentic beauty of the rural surroundings while meeting its future residents’ every need.
Working with and within nature is the guiding principle -at CORE Architects, which means every project is carefully designed to perform the most effectively and efficiently within its specific surroundings. With designs based on luxury, sustainability and holistic living, CORE Architects contributes to building healthier lifestyles for its clients by choosing locally sourced, smart materials, decreasing the need for artificial, toxic materials and solutions. As well as contributing to the environment, Passive House principles increase the comfort of those living within them, even decreasing the cost of monthly services through the installation of intelligent architectural cooling features.
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An excellent quality, comfortable home designed to provide a healthy, sustainable, personalised living space to meet the clients’ requirements involved:
- Comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, without the need for artificial heating and cooling, contributing to:
- Low energy consumption and
- Energy efficiency
- Natural materials and finishes ensuring maximum use of healthy, non-toxic materials
- A design that is easy to maintain
- Landscaping that requires little water while providing for rainwater to be collected and reused
- Stunning views