U House by Jorge Graca Costa
The U House is a spectacular contemporary home located in Ericeira, Portugal. It was designed by Jorge Graca Costa and it sports a crisp white minimalist look. The single-story residence offers about 3,229 square feet of living spaces which are layered out in a U-shape layout which is where the project gets its title from. The interior receives plenty of sunlight from the glazed surfaces all around which also serve as a portal to the nature that surrounds it.
The U House located in Ericeira, a World Surfing Reserve, was designed for José Gregório three times national Surf champion and a well known big wave rider, his wife and two daughters. This 300 Square meter house occupies a big lot, surrounded by a dense mesh of trees, on top of a hill overlooking Saint Lorenzo Bay. Our mutual interest in sustainability didn’t keep us from wholeheartedly embracing modern design. The goal was to avoid green pronouncements, allowing to achieve ascetics and exciting architecture solutions, instead of designing a building fully controlled by superfluous green technologies and merely aggregating raw materials.
The house design emerges from the inevitability of protection of prevailing winds. The north wind dominant in the summer and the stormy south wind dominant in the winter carrying the rain from the sea. Therefore the central idea was a design based in the reinterpretation of ancient’s Mediterranean patio houses, creating a patio sitting on a plateau embraced by two long arms interconnected by a third body, never ignoring the fabulous views to the west even in interior spaces. Abundant glazing brings in natural light while a high performance envelope controls temperatures. Eco-friendly Interior finishes and art work made from recycled materials take place in prominent places in the house.
The numerous sustainable features includes: cork has a primary isolation material, passive design (natural heating and cooling), floor and water heating by solar panels supported by biomass heating, microclimate environment created by the patio and the pool (pool water without chemical treatment) and rainwater harvesting (collected in a preexisting well) for irrigation proposes.
The house’s success in harmonizing design, functionality and sustainability is augmented by its livability, extreme comfort and considerable savings in consumption of water and energy. Its humble size and careful design are a testament to the success balance of architecture with a prescriptive performance design.