Two pared-back gabled additions harmonise with an existing farmhouse building to become a beautiful and modern family weekend escape.
Near the city of Guarda, in Portugal’s Goncalo parish, Portuguese architects Filipe Pina and David Bilo have rehabilitated a mid-twentieth century granite farmhouse and extended it with two gabled concrete structures to create a modern and minimalist countryside weekend retreat for a family of three.
Located in an area known as Mora at the foot of the Serra da Estrela mountain range in central Portugal, the property – which the architects have named Casa NaMora – is set within a naturally sheltered 18-hectare plot surrounded by dense pine forests. The land around the property is a working farm so the landscape is verdant and well cared for.
“NaMora translates to ‘in Mora’, but also means ‘flirt’ or ‘date’,” Pina says. “Thus, in a place named Mora, the concrete volumes forming the new part of the house formally ‘flirt’ with the existing granite body, in total harmony with the surroundings.”
The pre-existing granite farmhouse was the source of inspiration for the architects’ design of the residential addition. They renovated the old structure, then added two pared-back contemporary extensions that mirror the silhouette and complement the textural rawness of the old granite building.
In order not to disrupt the ongoing farming activities on the land, the architects split the functions of the property into two parts – one for the site’s agricultural activities, and the other for the family’s weekend cottage. The farming programmes were contained within the renovated granite building while the living and private areas for the family were housed within the new additions.
Within the renovated farmhouse, they included storage areas, a technical area, and a service kitchen and toilet. The interior design of the pre-existing building was executed in a way that respects the memory and experience of the farm.
“The final outcome, with the extension of the existing house, resulted from a compromise between the owners wishes and the existing features and morphology of the land, characterised by the existence of several terraces, ” Pina says.
“In a natural way, two new volumes of concrete were created and implanted in an existing terrace, closely linked to the granite building, allowing for a natural and fluid development of the local farm.
Added Bilo: “By enlarging the built- in areas through the creation of two new exposed concrete volumes, set within an existing terrace that already had a historic farmhouse, we could enable a fluid development of both the residential and agricultural programme of this project.”
The old and new buildings are connected via a thin concrete terrace at the front of the property. At the rear of the property is a garden, several terraces that link the old and new buildings, and a poolside patio that is accessible through a fully glazed gabled door in the extension.
The outdoor spaces were designed to capture the best views of the surrounding landscape and to enable the family to feel connected with the outdoors even while inside.
The exterior of the new wing was constructed with rough board-marked concrete, which creates a sense of continuity with the rough-hewn texture of the old granite farmhouse, while also staying true to the earthy and organic nature of agrarian life.
Inside the new wing, lofty, cathedral-like exposed concrete ceilings, white-painted walls, steel fit-outs, furniture of pale wood, and white curtains create a clean, pared-back aesthetic that is amenable to updates in the future. Underneath the exposed concrete ceiling is a simple, open-plan living space. Between the kitchen and the dining area of this space, a suspended wood-burning fireplace serves as a visual anchor for the sitting lounge.
Cantilevered above the kitchen is a mezzanine library with a black metal balustrade that overlooks the patio. Blue tiles and black stones were used in the bathrooms, which feature windows that look out to small courtyards that were cut out of the concrete volumes.
“Inside the cottage, we sought the neutrality given by the simplicity and purity of the materials and by the illusion of the absence of detail. The idea of interiority translates into openings towards landscapes, frames and courtyards strategically located,” Pina says.
The result is a visually cohesive home that plays off the strengths of its farm and countryside setting, while at the same time meeting the aesthetic sensibilities of the clients and their needs for modern comforts.