It is not without its challenges for a young couple to cohabit with their parents and in-laws. But for Portuguese couple João and Inês, this is exactly why they chose this spot to build their dream home.
“This was a very specific plot,” says the project’s architect André Malheiro, founder of Portugal design firm am-arqstudio. “This location was chosen due to the proximity to her parents’ house.”
Spanning two levels, this 350m2 residence in Braga, Portugal, is home to an open-plan living and dining area, a kitchen, a service bathroom, a corridor-turned library and a study on the ground floor, in addition to three bedrooms on the upper floor.
North to the abode is the parents’ house perched on a higher level – separated, yet connected to the main building through the back garden.
“They definitely value spending time with the entire family,” Malheiro says, “but on the other hand, they also wanted to maintain their own privacy, so we used the levels difference, and the volume openings, to create the privacy despite the family proximity.”
Entering the home, you’re met with a slatted panel custom-made of Lunawood that is intended to screen the social space and the entrance while offering guests a glimpse into the openness and connectedness that unfolds behind.
Further in, you enter a vast, double-height living area with a flight of suspended staircase of the same wood leading up to the upper floor, where a mezzanine corridor adds to the openness of the room.
“Their first and foremost requirement was to be able to be in one side of the house and see the other opposite side,” Malheiro says.
“For them, that creates a sense of connection with the family, because no matter what you are doing, be it cooking, watching TV or working, everyone is in the line of sight.”
For continuity, Lunawood can be found everywhere in this house from the inside out, courtesy of its durability and resistance to weather conditions. This sustainable wood from renewable Nordic forests doubles up in this house as decorative surfaces on the walls and mezzanine floors, extending all the way to the building’s exteriors to pull not only the interiors, but also the indoors and outdoors together.
“One of the many qualities of Lunawood is that it is a renewable resource,” the architect explains. “By choosing Lunawood we know that it comes from a well-managed Nordic forest, where whenever one tree is cut, four new ones are seeded.
“Besides having minimal environmental impact, and having no toxins or chemicals, Lunawood also guarantees excellent durability that can withstand time in various weather conditions. This way, we could use the same material in external and internal surfaces, creating a sense of continuity.”
In the main social space, as throughout the home, surfaces of Lunawood are carefully arranged in accordance to the sun movement to give off the best vibe round the clock.
From the first beam of light casting on the kitchen floor and the wood balcony where you’re sipping that morning coffee; the scorching midday sun shining above the semi-exterior space to the sunset glow caressing the library’s wood furniture, each surface interacts perfectly with the sunlight to bring the home to life.
Warm and sophisticated, the Nordic wood reaches its full potential particularly in the sun- bathed library. Flanked by window-facing bookshelves and cosy reading seats, the corridor- cum-library offers the best lighting for reading while functioning as a transition between work and living spaces.
“There was always a concern with natural light, to create the correct environment for work, and a direct connection to the exterior to foster creativity.”
On the upper floor where the private space is located, a darker tone is appointed to keep the rooms restful and serene. Here, dark concrete walls are punctuated with an abundance of windows that draw in plenty of natural light and outdoor views.
“This game between darker surfaces and smaller openings make the upper level spaces quieter and secure, nonetheless without creating the sense of a small space,” he adds.
A pas de deux of connectedness and privacy, and shadow and light, constitute a chic- inviting two-family compound that turns cohabiting with in-laws and parents into a contemporary fairy tale.