Taking “Building within Nature” to a Whole New Level
A passive house with a green roof built into and around its surroundings
This project involved renewing an old, forgotten gem of a farmhouse and adding an extension to transform it into a contemporary house. But this wasn’t any ordinary renovation. The over 5,230 square metres of land around the house is populated with the most beautiful, old olive, almond and orange trees, and a decision was made to maintain them at all costs. The resulting design was therefore developed around the trees, ensuring none would need to be moved or cut down, but also bearing in mind the rest of the area’s natural vegetation – a significant contributor to the house’s energy performance.
A Rustic Design built to Withstand the Elements
A Dream Algarve Beach House filled with Light
With its unique location in the heart of Quinta do Lago, the Algarve’s most prestigious residential area, this special beach house was built by two German ladies who discovered the Algarve 40 years ago. The new owner of the house fell in love the second she set foot in it, and after long negotiations with the two original owners, she was finally able to call it her own.
Before she came to CORE Architects, the client carefully drew up a specific vision for the house with lots of attention to the most minute details. Firstly, she wanted to emphasise the rough, robust character of the house, required to withstand the strong forces of the coastal weather it was exposed to. Next, she wanted to let the beautiful Algarve light into every room.
The Perfect Balance between Privacy and Community Living
A Modern, Accessible Open-Plan Home
Nestled in the picturesque landscape of the Algarve coastline, on a hill between wild thyme and rosemary, this low energy house was built for a family based in Lübbecke, Germany. Having holidayed in the area for 30 years, they finally decided they wanted their own holiday home, but with a few special requirements.
A retired couple who had previously struggled with two-storeys, experience now dictated that ground-level living was the way forwards. This meant designing a single-storey house providing for communicative living all one level while blending gently into the steep hillside of the plot and providing for comfortable, effortless access to the garden.
Utmost privacy was another requirement, though the request for maximum visibility is what originated for the concept of the design and open living space opening up southwards towards the sea. The solution reached were large windows, allowing daylight to flood into the house while shielding the inside from sight.
Positioning is everything when it comes to Comfort
“But the house doesn’t sit straight on its hill!”
The first words uttered by every person to visit this new build: “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. However, far more than the views, this rotation was essential to maximising its energy performance, something the owners of the property understood immediately. The house turned towards the sun, its terraces face away from it, creating non-symmetrical diagonal lines that manage the house’s heat efficiency and give it a modern edge – perfect for a couple taking early retirement to their slice of paradise.
An Eco-Extendable House
The Drawer House
Casa Gaveta (the Drawer House) is a house that can be extended by 50% of its base size, contracting or expanding to meet the needs of its inhabitants. An experimental project, the aim was to investigate the ways in which a house can respond to the changing lifestyles required by each season. Spring and summer mean guests and social events, while autumn and winter call for a slower pace requiring less room – with the house transforming accordingly at the mere push of a button.
Having won an innovation prize for the idea, CORE founder Anabela has since patented the design, providing Casa Gaveta in two modules: basic and complex.
Extending the refurbishment of a Moorish-style home.
A Near Zero-Energy House (nZEH) working with and within its surroundings.
So pleased with the result of the Casa Islay refurbishment in 2011, the same German client came back to CORE in 2015 with another Moorish-style house opposite his original family holiday home. The same construction principles were applied to meet similar requirements: open-space living; spacious outdoor areas; natural, healthy building materials; energy-efficient building materials such as clay plaster; triple-glazed windows; wooden decking; bespoke designed furniture; and carefully-calculated house and window orientations and shading to provide maximum energy efficiency.
A light-filled home built into the hillside and fed by nature
Building with and within nature means minimising the impact of any building work carried out, and there’s no better example than Villa BJ – an underground house built into a hillside. Placing a building anywhere alters its surrounding environment, something the CORE team considers carefully with every project, assessing each landscape’s interactions and influences on the new personal spaces created.
However, as well as minimising this extension’s impact on the land, building it into the hill provides several other advantages. Thorough insulation means temperatures are easily maintained overnight, with carefully calculated overhangs protecting the interiors from overheating in the summer and providing solar gains in winter. Locally sourced building materials such as concrete, glass and natural stone also reduce the house’s carbon footprint while further increasing its efficiency, meaning that barely any additional heating or cooling is required. The icing on the cake?
Transforming a space to reduce energy consumption
Near Zero Energy House (nZEH)
Initially built in the 80s, a German medical specialist purchased this little Moorish-style house in 2011. In search of a comfortable holiday home to meet his high living standards, the owner also wanted a build that complied with German building standards, relying on healthy, natural building materials.
Working closely within these strict parameters, the CORE team was able to provide an ecologically sustainable design that exceeded expectations. The design encompassed efficient thermal insulation and Schüco triple panel windows, with Nordic oak used for the uniform bespoke internal doors, kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The house’s original, poorly oriented, small windows meant the stunning view had been blocked out, but this was easily remedied, adding a benefit not even we could have predicted!
5 Star Countryside Hotel
Eco-friendly, Energy Efficient Wellness Destination
A Golf resort of Dreams, Maximising Contact with Nature
Located in the most beautiful of Algarve landscapes, this true oasis of tranquillity and nature is designed to keep visitors away from crowds and mass tourism. The idyllic landscape provides the perfect location for a hotel and 9-hole golf course nestled among lakes, olive, cork and oak trees on sloped terrains that open out onto vast countryside views. The aim was to integrate the property into its surrounding landscape, dividing it into five interconnected sections that meander gently along the terrain. The hotel is primarily south-facing, the orientation most beneficial to it benefitting from the Algarve’s famous sunshine and blue skies.
Feng Shui inspirations: a hotel in harmony with nature.
The objective of the Inspiration Hotel Design Competition was to design a hotel with spaces dedicated to meditation, spiritual work, art, music and creative movement. CORE put forwards a design with a basis on meaningful associations between Feng Shui principles, numerology (Fibonacci) and the results of a detailed bioclimatic study of the location. In seeking to meet all of these specifications, the vision that emerged was a space with strong connections to both the earth and the sky. Eco-friendly building materials were seen as an essential feature for this project, key to creating a healthy, natural environment that positively affects the wellbeing of occupants and influences all their senses. Sustainable materials such as wood, glass, zinc and clay were also incorporated, in keeping with the five elements of Feng Shui (wood, metal, earth, fire and water), which are also represented by the cardinal points.
Traditional meets Contemporary Eco-design
Rising from ruins: transforming a Portuguese country home with a stone ruin
Casa Michel was a unique refurbishment and extension project involving an old stone ruin and a very rundown house. With careful planning and a keen awareness of the legal restrictions placed on preserving the ruin, the CORE team was able to connect the building and ruin, refurbishing the latter and transforming it into a luxury guesthouse. Though not without its legal and technical challenges, the project was completed in time and within budget, with a delicate balance achieved between affordability, sustainability and aesthetics in this highly energy efficient build.
Casa Michel is the home of two world travellers, who have both worked in the five-star hotel business for many years, managing hotels from Florida to Asia. Having travelled the world, the fun-loving couple chose the Algarve as their home, and we were honoured to assist them in building their dream home.
Suvilas Royal Gardenia
European-standard Energy-Efficient build in India
Signature luxury development project in Banglore
The CORE team got involved in this signature luxury development project in Banglore India, advising on construction materials and technical solutions, as well as the interior design of the common areas and show homes. CORE was also responsible for purchasing all the decorative materials and furniture, organising transportation and delivery to India.
Q19 – Casa Estrela
A Nearly-Zero-Energy Bold, Contemporary Mansion
The First of its Kind in Award-Winning Quinta do Lago Resort
Carefully controlled architecture went into designing this bold, contemporary mansion, which, looking as if it is growing and changing before the very eye of the beholder, uses its distinct architectural spirit to express uniqueness and personality. A rhythmic, repetitive composition was achieved through a set arrangement of separate volumes, expressing the mansion’s unconventional interior floorplan. Seeming as if it has been pushed and pulled to create a series of visually interconnected spaces, each has been carefully designed to serve its specific function while all working together as a whole, poised in a perfect balance: producing nearly net-zero emissions.
A Passive House Moulded to its Environment
Comfort and versatility in the heart of Vale do Lobo, Algarve
This large holiday home in Vale do Lobo was designed around its unique location to maximise views over the sea and golf courses. Tackling a plot only 12 metres wide was a challenge from the start, exacerbated by the 5-metre-long slope downhill. The result is a striking outer design and spacious, bright indoor living areas; the functionality and flexibility of the space surprising all who enter it.
From the street, the house appears to be a simple, modest single-storey bungalow. Its clean, white-clad facade deceives anyone who may come across it, covering up its true dimensions. Stretching back, away from the street, the house spreads out into the garden, flowing harmoniously over the undisturbed 5-metre slope. Inside, wooden floors and furniture combined with white walls and cabinet fronts create sleek subtlety, decorated by playful light accentuations coming through white shading window panels.
Nearly Zero Energy Stately-Home Style Residence
An L-shaped stately home combining all the traditional features of a colonial residence on the outside with open-plan living areas and contemporary, light-filled bedrooms. Where practicality meets luxury, and the traditional is built from the most modern of technologies, encompassing and harnessing all nature has to offer.