Showing posts with label Portugal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Portugal. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Architecture Wednesday: Three Cusps Chalet

The second half of the 19th century saw the return of large numbers of emigrants from Brazil to their native Portugal. While returning to their northern roots, especially in the Douro and Minho regions, they brought with them sizable fortunes — made in the economic trade and industry boom of the 19th century Brazil — and a new culture and cosmopolitanism unheard of in Portugal at that time.

That combination of capital and taste sprinkled the cities of northern Portugal with examples of rich, quality architecture, of which the Three Cusps Chalet is a clear example.

Thanks to large amounts of Brazilian money, as the Dom Frei Caetano Brandão Street was opened, a small palace was built in the corner of Cathedral’s square, boasting high-ceilings, rich frescos, complex stonework, stucco reliefs and exotic timber carpentry.

In deference to such noble spaces, the kitchen, laundry, larders and personnel quarters — usually hidden away in basements and attics — were now placed in one contiguous building. The Three Cusps Chalet, built according to the devised model of an alpine chalet — with narrow proportions, tall windows, pitched roofs and decorated eaves — was that one building.

As years passed, the building fell into disrepair, until a design team took it as their mission to recover the building’s identity. The intention was to clarify the building’s spaces and functions while simultaneously making it fit for today’s way of living.

The result is a cohabitation of work studio and private home. The design team took advantage of a 5 foot height difference between the street and the interior plaza to place the working area on the ground level, turning it westward and relating it to the street. Meanwhile, the private areas of the structure relate to the interior plaza and the morning light.

The staircase, previously closed in on three of its sides, is now surrounded by glass to filter views from both the work space and the home, while allowing natural light to seep down from the upper levels.

The second floor was kept for the private areas of the house, though the designers refused the natural tendency to compartmentalize the spaces; the staircase was allowed to define the perimeters of the kitchen and living room, creating an open floor with natural light all day long. Light enters from the kitchen in the morning, from the staircase’s skylight and from the living room in the afternoon.

Climbing the last and narrow flights of stairs are the sleeping quarters where the roof structure was kept apparent, though painted white. On the other side of the staircase is a closet and bathroom.

If the visual theme of the house is the white color, methodically repeated on walls, ceilings, carpentry and marble, the clothing room is the surprise at the top of the stairs. Both the floor and roof structure appear in their natural colors surrounded by closet doors constructed in the same material. It reads as a small wooden box, a counterpoint to both the home’s white box and the marble box of the bathroom.

White was used for the walls, ceilings and carpentry due to its spatial qualities and lightness, while wood in its natural color is used for the hardwood floors and clothing room for its warmth and comfort. Portuguese white Estremoz marble, which covers the ground floor, countertops and on the bathrooms and laundry walls and floors, was chosen for its texture, reflectivity and color.

All of the original wood window frames of the main façade were recovered, the roof was remade with the original Marseille tiles and the decorated eave restored to its original glory. Ground floor window frames were remade in iron, as per the original, but redesigned in order to maximize natural illumination.

It’s the kind of renovation that celebrates the past while looking forward.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Architecture Wednesday: Casa Fazenda

We've been spending some time in Spain these last couple of weeks--architecturally speaking, that is--and so now we're traveling east, to Portugal, and the Casa Fazenda, which is loosely translated as 'farm house.'.
This home, located in Amarantina, doesn't look like a lot from the front, but once you get inside, and then walk out to the pool, you'll see why it rates a place in Architecture Wednesday.
I love all the different colors and textures, the stone and the wood, and the glass and the view. This looks like a home built for a party and created for a siesta at the same time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Tale Of Two Politicians

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle hasn't made up her mind on civil unions but described the bill passed by the state Legislature as the equivalent of same-sex marriage. Which, oddly enough, is the exact same language used by religious wingnuts, er, conservatives who oppose civil unions, and identical in tone to a resolution approved by state Republicans who want her to veto the bill.
"It does appear to me on reading it, that it really is same-sex marriage, but by a different name," Lingle told reporters during a break at the state GOP convention. "But I want to wait and hear people out."
She has said she would consider some form of domestic partnership legislation, i.e. not-really-marriage-and-not-a-civil-union, but she has opposed marriage equality. In fact, she is quite clear that her idea of domestic partners is vastly different from the civil unions described in the bill.
The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples who enter into civil unions the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as in marriage under state law, though, of course, their unions would not be recognized under federal law.

Hawaii can be paradise.
If you're heterosexual.

And yet, over in Portugal, their conservative--you read that right--president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, announced that he will ratify a law to allow marriage equality in the heavily Catholic country, making Portugal the sixth in Europe to let same-sex couples wed.
However, he said he was doing so only because the majority liberal lawmakers would overturn his decision, and that he would rather focus on Portugal's economic crisis that has increased unemployment and deepened poverty.

"Given that fact, I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us," Cavaco Silva said.
Maybe he doesn't want marriage equality, but President Cavaco Silva does seem to understand that, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter much.
Too bad his message doesn't translate to America.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Knew It Wouldn't Last

My truce with Pope Benedict, that is.

I mean, yes, I was surprised when he finally admitted that the problems of the church allowing priests to go unchecked and unpunished while they molest children, was caused by sins within the church and not the fault of The Gays, The Media, The Jews, or The Pro-Choice folks. That made my day. It made me think that this pope is crawling out of the slime of the Dark Ages and into the light of the 21st Century.

Oops. My bad. Spoke too soon.

The Pope, wrapping up a trip to Portugal, where roughly 90 percent of the population is Catholic, made an appeal in Fatima that the Portuguese people stand up for values that are the "essential and primary values of life," such as "the family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman."

Vatican speak for No.Gay.Marriage.EVER!!!!!!!!

Benedict then said that abortion, which has been legal in Portugal since 2007, and gay marriage are "some of the most insidious and dangerous challenges facing the common good today."

See what he did there? Common marriage bad. You hardly noticed his lips moving when he spouts hate.

This new anti-gay speech, and let's be clear, he isn't standing up for "traditional" marriage, he's anti-gay, is the result of the Portuguese parliament's passage last January of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages; the government had rejected the alternative proposals of civil partnerships. President Anibal Cavaco Silva is under pressure from the Church and conservative groups not to ratify the bill, but, if he vetoes it, parliament can override the veto with another vote.

Which brings the Pope to Portugal.

And ratchets the anti-gay speech up a notch.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Portugal Goes For Marriage Equality

Portugal, one of Europe's most socially conservative and Catholic countries, is expected to approve the legalisation of gay marriage tomorrow with little muss or fuss.

Since the Socialist party, and other so-called left-wing parties, in the majority, the marriage equality law is expected to sail through the first reading debate and gain final approval before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI, due in Portugal in May.

Won't she be happy.

In contrast to Spain, where the lead-up to marriage equality legalisation in 2005 saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets, the bill in Portugal has provoked only muted opposition, even from the right.

While normally vocal on the role of marriage and the family in society, the Catholic Church has refused to mobilise on a subject which, according to Lisbon's Cardinal Patriarch Jose Policarpo, is "parliament's responsibility".

Wait. A Catholic Cardinal says that laws regarding the citizens should be left to the parliament and not to churches. Get that man a ticket to America.

"I think the Portuguese people have learnt one of the fundamental tenets of democracy: respect for the rights of the individual," said Miguel Vale de Almeida, Portugal's first openly-gay lawmaker. Vale de Almeida, the Socialists' pointman on the legislation, said there is now a political majority in favour of gay marriage and that it is "too simplistic to link Catholicism and conservatism."

A fundamental tenet of democracy is to respect the rights of the individual. Beautiful.

And while the Portuguese people are equally split on the idea of marriage equality, 49% against, 45% for, they are still strongly against gay adoptions. But, I think, in time they will see that gay parents are no different, no better, no worse, than straight parents.

Congratulations Portugal for taking a giant leap into the future.