An open international ideas competition has been launched for a cliff-top dwelling near historic Salir do Porto in Portugal (Deadline: 4 February)
Organised by ARKxSITE, the contest seeks conceptual proposals for a unique residential building on a site overlooking St Martinho do Porto bay.
The picturesque site occupies a large promontory just outside Salir do Porto, and features several ruined buildings with stunning views of the coastline and North Atlantic Ocean.
According to the brief: ‘When generating a vision for an intervention located within such a spectacular place, it is essential that each proposal emphasises, respects and celebrates the site, while providing visitors with a unique experience.
‘This is a place to stay and inhabit for a few days, offering visitors a unique experience in a very special setting; visitors must leave the space as they found it, empty.’
The village of Salir do Porto is an hour’s drive north of Lisbon on Portugal’s Costa de Prata or ‘Silver Coast’. It sits on the south edge of a shell-shaped natural bay, featuring a large beach with sand dunes.
Salir do Porto was once a busy seaport and a starting point for several historic expeditions to the New World. Buildings from this period on the promontory included a shipyard, customs building, lighthouse and the Chapel of Sant’Ana where priests would bless vessels crossing the ocean.
These structures are now in ruins, but the rocky headland has become popular with tourists and local people, and a thermal spring was recently discovered beneath the old customs building.
Proposals for the new dwelling should include interior living, resting, sleeping, cooking, and bathing areas alongside exterior seating, new landscaping and a viewing point.
The living space may be in direct contact with the elements to provide an exhilarating experience for inhabitants, while the sleeping area should be sheltered from the weather. Bathing facilities may also harness the nearby thermal spring water.
Functions may be grouped together or spread out across the rocky headland, making use of the existing ruins where appropriate. The competition is the seventh call for entries organised by ARKxSITE, which has also sought conceptual proposals for a coastal landmark, gallery, visitors centre and museum in Portugal.
The winning team, set to be announced on 20 March, will receive €2,000. There will also be a second prize of €1,000, third prize of €500, and seven honourable mentions.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is 4 February
Early registration from 14 October to 15 December: €60
Regular registration from 16 December to 19 January: €75
Late registration from 20 January to 30 January: €90
Outlandia Fieldstation case study: Q&A with Malcolm Fraser
The Edinburgh-based architect discusses lessons learned designing a dwelling and studio in Glen Nevis, Scotland
How did your Outlandia Fieldstation create an appropriate residence and studio for its unique location?
Brief and site were nice and loose: an artists’ fieldstation, commissioned and programmed by London Fieldworks in the Glen below Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, to allow and encourage creative interaction between artists and the land, its history and people. The exact location grew out of a complex interaction between partners, landowners, local authorities and the landscape itself, as revealed by long crawls through wet undergrowth and wooded slopes, in carpets of pine needles and clouds of biting midges, in search of natural and human drama.
Glen Nevis, Scotland
The site chosen is full of it. Sitting opposite the mountain, a visitor approaches Outlandia along a path cut through dense woods behind, descending out the musty dark out to a big view which, framed by tall larches, opens up across the glen to the shoulder of the Ben. Great nature dazzles, but we soon adjust to see the multiplicity of human interaction with it: threaded routes, from the main road and West Highland Way along the foot of the glen to the tourist route up the mountain, with its strings of tiny bobbling hats working their way up the hill; the car parks, caravan parks and visitor centre, places of the modern tourist trade; the old mills and older burial mounds, traces of more ancient usage; and the great industrial aluminium smelter down the glen and the hydro that powers it. Nothing could be further from the conceit of the Highlands as ‘unspoilt wilderness’. We have long been part of this landscape, and artists making work for, from and around Outlandia have illuminated such tensions.
Glen Nevis, Scotland
Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?
The building itself sits out from a 45-degree slope; a treehouse, part-built out the trees cut down to form the site, entered across a bridge from the slope behind; a simple box, leaning out into the view with a big window opening-up to it. Part of the process of building was low-impact, an eco-friendly use of material recovered from the site; part was the opposite, high-impact, with daredevil landings of concrete, for the foundations, from a helicopter. Construction was part-forestry, part-joinery and part-mountain rescue, with a local contractor who nicely combined all three, and an unusual set of risk assessments.
Glen Nevis, Scotland