PROJECT

Casa Michel

Casa Michel was a unique refurbishment and extension project. The original plot included an old stone ruin and a very rundown house. With careful planning and attention to following legal restrictions associated with the preservation with the ruin, CORE team was able to connect the building and ruin, refurbishing the later as a special guesthouse while achieving high energy efficiency in the estate.

Though not without its challenges on the legal and technical fronts, the project was completed in time and within budget, achieving the right balance between affordability, sustainability and aesthetics.

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RISING FROM RUINS: A PORTUGUESE COUNTRY HOME WITH A STONE RUIN COMES ALIVE 

Casa Michel is the home of two world travelers. Both worked for many years in the five-star hotel business and managed hotels from Florida, USA to main destinations in Asia. After traveling the world, the couple chose the Algarve as their home and we had the pleasure to assist this fun-loving couple in building their dream home.

The plot they chose included an old stone ruin and a very rundown house, built illegally by the pervious owner. The couple had fallen in love with the country views and the close proximity of the plot to Loule city center in the Algarve.

According to legal restrictions, two separate buildings on one urban plot are not permitted. However, it was also not permitted to knock down the ruin, as this ruin was the fundamental legal condition allowing us to build at all. The previous owner had disobeyed all building restrictions and built a stand-alone house in the middle of the plot, ignoring the existence of the ruin. According to preservation laws, he would have been obliged to preserve and refurbish the ruin.

Now, under new ownership, the ruin needed to be restored and connected to the randomly placed house in order to obtain legal registration again. The challenge for CORE was to navigate all the legal restrictions and find a way to connect the two houses that stood far apart with a functional, yet aesthetic and authentic, design.

Following the usual CORE approach, we decided to leverage what we had, in terms of space and location, and work with the building shapes that were available. An additional extension was not permitted since the maximum build area was already nearly achieved.

We connected the two buildings by a corridor and new entrance hall. To the left was the 1980´s building and to the right, the ruin. The ruin was refurbished as a guesthouse with a spacious en-suite bedroom, a big living room kitchen and a spacious terrace where the old bread oven was kept as a special feature.

The house to the right was meant as the main home for the couple and was designed to provide spacious big rooms, an open-space living area and a big kitchen. This was important as the lady of the house loves cooking and entertaining was something that her husband, a former hotel manger, always enjoyed.

Apart from intense architectural design work, I will always remember the cheerful meetings in the clients’ kitchen, discussing floor plan details and materials till late. The CORE team gradually felt part of the family and shared the client’s passion for building something very special in this unique property.

From their extensive journeys, the clients had several Asian items that featured in the interior design of the house. Chinese room dividers were used as internal doors, Indonesian wood carving used as headboards, praying stools as bed ends, and Buddha statues were carefully placed highlighting their exotic travels and tastes.   

The sustainability principles that CORE follows led to an energy efficient comfortable estate with an independent guest cottage that had a separate entrance, kitchen and terrace. Although the outer walls were already existing and of very poor quality, the application of insulation panels on walls and roofs, new roof tilting, automated shading, pergolas to the south, as well as high-performance windows and doors turned the property into an A-rated energy efficient home.

Though not without its challenges on the legal and technical fronts, the project was completed in time and within budget, achieving the right balance between affordability, sustainability and aesthetics.

Plot size: 4.297,70 m²
Classification of plot: Rustic
Construction area: 294,70 m²
Number of rooms: 3 & 3 bathrooms
Specifications: Traditional vs. Contemporary, Eco-design
Construction time: 12 months
Budget/ m²: 2000€/ m²
Project-type: Refurbishment and extension

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