This is a project by Sena Architects and it is located at Sintra, Portugal. There are three images for Self-Sustainable Hut.
According to the major dictionaries the definition for Self-Sustainable is "The ability to sustain oneself or itself independently". This is the goal for this project.
Architecture of necessity
The concept of 'necessity' depends on whom you ask, but is there any greater necessity than being able to secure your own survival without external aid? To be independent? This project seeks an answer for independent survival today, its seeks to provide shelter, water, power, food and comfort. If the resources we depend upon one day ceased to exist, what would we do?
Working with what we've got
The opportunity for this ambitious project came with a very special client and a property in Odrinhas, a village near Sintra, Portugal. The idea was to create a home that works in symbiosis with its inhabitants, sustaining each other whilst producing the minimum possible impact on their surroundings.
The design is based on very simple and basic principles. The Portuguese climate is characterised by the extensive range of its temperatures, between summer and winter and even day and night; hence correct orientation, protection and ventilation are essential.
Because it is important to utilise all of the energy provided by the sun all rooms face south, producing a long and narrow shaped building with a glazed south facade. A calculated overhang, capable of shading the windows from the summer sun also allows it to penetrate the building during the cooler winter, minimising the necessity for heating.
Complementing the shading system another row of smaller widows appears on the opposite facade providing the building with cross ventilation that keeps it fresh during the hot summer days. A green roof is added - the presence of soil and water keeping a constant temperature inside and providing integration with the landscape.
Because we must be careful not to waste permeable ground the building is elevated and stands on stilts, neither disturbing the soil, or the water cycle.
The connection with Nature is vital and gives birth to the final image. The client's passion for the sea inspired us to base its shape on a wave, pulling all the previous notions together.
Wood as the raw material
Wood is today the most environmentally friendly and economic material to build in. It is a historic, classic, and durable building material that has lent longevity, aesthetics and a natural flair to buildings for thousands of years. And while wood has long been considered an environmentally friendly resource, more and more focus is being placed on its recycling and renewability aspects, as well as the use of certified forest land.
Choosing to use wood as the main material at an early stage of the project allows for the adaptation of the design to the material, in order to make the best of what it can offer us. It becomes a pervading presence at every stage, a thread throughout the project.
Wood emerges at the very beginning as a heavy timber structure supporting the building with laminated timber beans and columns, the use of concrete is reduced to the minimum and only seen in the foundations. Wood is continuously used on the walls, floor structures and finishings throughout the project.
Walking through it
The building accompanies the property's long shape and sits in the lower part of the lot, becoming almost invisible to those that pass by. The main entrance faces East, the narrower side of the property. A corridor that stretches alongside the length of the building gives access to the different rooms and finally opens up into the lounge, the heart of the house. It is a common place for cooking, relaxation or work with an open view over the rest of the property. The lounge connects with an outside patio, contained between the main house and the storage block.
The materials repeat themselves throughout the project, the wood is used in large pieces that follow the walls around; creating the sensation of a single piece. These large pieces of wood accommodate the kitchen, cases, bookshelves and fireplace. The warmth of the dark wood is a stark contrast with the clear glass windows and the coldness of the stone used in the kitchen.
The ultimate goal is to achieve self-sustainability or the capacity to be self-sufficient, severing the necessity for connections to the network supply of water, electricity, gas or sewers.
Water will be drawn out of a well and treated to become drinkable, wastewater will also be retreated and reused for irrigation and the sanitation. The demand for hot water will be answered by solar water heating panels placed on the roof, hidden from sight.
Electricity will be produced by photovoltaic solar panels on the roof and through a wind turbine within the grounds of the property, these systems will gather and store electricity to supply the house, the well pumping system and the remaining energy demands.