Ageing stone walls frame concrete structure
of E/C House by SAMI Arquitectos


Portuguese studio SAMI Arquitectos has slotted a modern concrete house behind the crumbling stone walls of a ruined building, located on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.

E/C House by Sami

Pico belongs to a group of volcanic islands far west of Portugal and is an area that architects Inês Vieira da Silva and Miguel Vieira of SAMI Arquitectos have been working to rehabilitate for over 10 years.

This latest project involved creating a holiday home for a couple based in Coimbra. The architects sought to construct a building designed around an existing ruin – formerly a house with a living space at the top and an area for animals below.

E/C House by Sami

"A ruin was the starting point for the design," explained the architects, who have named the project E/C House .

"The project came from the will to maintain a ruin and thinking of a house that would value it, a house that could be modelled to it and take advantage at the same time, offering the most diverse and complex possibilities of living than the former typology."

E/C House by Sami

The new house is a two-storey concrete structure that squats within chunky walls of dark basalt stone. Terraces and decks are dotted around the perimeter, some behind the ageing outer structure and some extending beyond it.

To ensure that plenty of light penetrates the double-layered exterior, the architects added large windows to every living room and bedroom. Many span the full height of a room.

E/C House by Sami

"The house, modelled inside the walls of stone, was designed with generous openings, for light to come inside and for contemplation of the landscape," they said.

"These openings are sometimes lined up, and sometimes not, with the former openings of the ruin, creating new frames and relations with the original limits of the house."

E/C House by Sami

The split-level ground floor, which once would have been used for housing livestock, now accommodates four bedrooms featuring timber-lined walls and built-in storage.

A staircase ascends up alongside one wall, leading directly up to a living room with an angled ceiling that follows the pitch of the timber-framed roof.

E/C House by Sami

The focal point of this space is a timber bookshelf that covers the entire gabled end wall, wrapping around a large window that can also be used as an entrance.

A combined kitchen and dining room occupy the rest of this floor. Wooden closets offer storage at one end of the space, while sliding glass doors open the space out to three different terraces – one behind the stone and two that are exposed to the landscape.

E/C House by Sami

"The project is a movement between a limit line, in stone, and the intervention volumes that are led by that same line, but sometimes flow independently or extend, whenever the necessity of space or of a view is needed," added Vieira da Silva and Vieira.

E/C House by Sami

The commission for E/C House came in 2005, although it wasn't completed until eight years later. In the meantime, the architects also designed and built C/Z House, a residence with a stained wood exterior.

Photography is by Paulo Catrica.

Project credits:

Architects: SAMI Arquitectos – Inês Vieira da Silva, Miguel Vieira
Team: Bruna Silva, João do Vale Martins, Andreia Luís, Inês Martins, Rita Maria Pinto
Trainee: Daniel Mentech
Structural Engineering: Ricardo Ferro Antunes, Francisco Mendonça Santos
Water and Sanitation: Paulo Jorge Almeida Oliveira
Electrical Engineering: Hugo Mendonça
Construction Company: José Artur Cruz Leal – Unipessoal, Lda
Furniture: SAMI with Loja Nord

E/C House by Sami
Site plan – click for larger image
E/C House by Sami
Lower level plan – click for larger image
E/C House by Sami
Upper level plan – click for larger image
E/C House by Sami
Section one – click for larger image
E/C House by Sami
Section two – click for larger image
E/C House by Sami
Section three – click for larger image
E/C House by Sami
Section four – click for larger image
  • Eynak East

    It’s twenty fifteen I’m sittin’ here shinin’ n’ gleamin at this concrete block that’s cooler than frezzin’, sitting in a shell of a time past gone, a cheek sex appeal like an Icelandic thong, that ain’t wrong, ding-a-ling-along, something about a rhyme for this East bit is becoming a crime… Nothing left to say except this here bit be cray!

  • David

    Crumbling walls and a stunning interior. What’s not to love? This house hits the mark on every level of its design. Congratulations.

  • Sam

    East knows.

  • Antoine Bowers

    I… I… I don’t know what to say.

  • Wolfgang

    The white walls… This is a tread right now. ;( but I like it.

  • rUIPEDRo

    I’ve so many good things to say about this house that, I don’t know – how can I say it… I just wanna say that the imperfection on the concrete wall, the one with the windows to the bathroom suite and bedroom is simply beautiful. Probably a not expected mistake but, beautiful.

    “These openings are sometimes lined up, and sometimes not, with the former openings of the ruin, creating new frames and relations with the original limits of the house”. This really worked out very well and the 5th photo shows it!

    Besides that, all the construction seems to work out very nice in the ruin context and the bright, clean interiors makes a beautiful contrast with the outside landscape, which is mainly “dark” in the island.

    For a project that lasts 8 years to be built, it’s impressive, because I don’t feel in any time his date, which means that was made with a lot of sense and with no sense of fashion or trend.

    Well done!!