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housing in almada

This project resulted from a long-desired collaboration between two foreign architects with differing nationalities and backgrounds living in Osaka, Japan. During the project’s development, we were each working full-time at independent design firms. Soon this project would become an endeavour that we both would focus our attention on for almost a year.

As the COVID-19 Pandemic began to spread aggressively, we began to actively search for a positive and effective use of our time outside of our respective offices. We received an opportunity to design a housing complex in Portugal, which allowed us to think of a new housing typology that would limit the spread of the COVID-19 Virus.

For the duration of the project’s design process, COVID-19 was in the midst of a rapid spread. In Portugal, it was incredibly aggressive, forcing a state of emergency and a lockdown. As architects with a desire to create a unique habitation with comfortable living spaces for its users, we sought to implement effective strategies to accommodate people staying at home for long durations. The “new normal” forced people to immediately acclimate to a new type of lifestyle to prevent virus infection, with many professions and industries changing their approach to work. Some people began to work full-time from home, drawing a fragile and thin line between working and living space.

Our conception of the city stemmed from that of a large complex organism separated into the binaries of natural and vernacular or artificial and planned. The artificial city, in our eyes, was formatted by humans at an urban top-down scale. Conversely, the area of the development was encapsulated by the culture of the vernacular city. Throughout the 20th century, it was thoroughly proven that the artificial city does not produce the intended effects of its design. Differences between the artificial and natural city can additionally be seen in its development and economic growth.

This proposal aimed to provide residents with the maximum possible quality of life through simple architectural strategies of design and planning with minimal expenditure of costs and resources. To strike a balance between high-density and traditional vernacular cities, it became necessary for individual living spaces or small urban nodes to blend the threshold between the city, public space, and home.
We believed it was needed to critique and understand pre-existing relationships between architectural typologies, urban planning, and vernacular buildings. Through evolutions of the urban fabric, well known precedents can be utilized to optimize the livability of space through the creation of new structures.
During our design process we referred to buildings in the surrounding and nearby vicinities, some anonymous, or at least that the author is unknown, to understand how we could express our intentions.
Considering the social context, location, and existing urban fabric as the main drivers of the project, we aimed to create safe and low-cost solutions to integrate social distancing within the architecture, which limited contact between residents. Particularly in the COVID-19 Pandemic, housing should allow flexibility to adapt to current societal conditions.

As such, this project investigates a new building typology by utilizing proper airflow, the disinfecting qualities of sunlight, and ample distancing between units. Formally, the building is characterized by cuts in the centre of each building’s plan and terraces that resemble a “V” shape. Respective building volumes are divided in two due to each property’s unique characteristics.
The main driver of the project was to create a safe and low-cost solution to establish social distancing with
architecture. Especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing should allow flexibility to adapt to the current societal conditions.

This project investigates a new building typology by utilizing proper airflow, the disinfecting qualities of sunlight, and ample social distancing between units.
Cuts in each building divide the volumes in three and align with the southern sun's axis, allowing for optimized daylight exposure throughout the day. The central terraces allow airflow through the building, establish a sense of vertical community, and add a shared axiality that ties all of the buildings together.
Many of the residents would not have access to sufficient air conditioning, so the architecture needed to operate with passive cooling. The plan has been organized to allow for cross ventilation.
The red plaster façade is covered by a pattern that ties to the rationale of the plan. It is based on the idea of
incrementally increasing façade divisions by floor.
The interior and exterior are utterly dissimilar. The site plan and elevation use orthogonal logic. The residents of all three apartments are linked by the communal geometry which cannot be seen all at once, but perhaps can be felt.

Project author : Alexandre Vicente + Ken Farris
project architects : Alexandre Vicente, Ken Farris
local architect : Nuno Carvalho
structure engineer: Pedro Lindo Guerreiro
mechanical engineer : Delano Pereira
model photos credits : Ken Farris

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