You Know You’ve Made It When Your House Is Half Castle Ruins

Upcycling level: Expert

November 25, 2016 9:00 am

“It gives it character.”

Something you say when your favorite leather goods or watch get a nick or a scratch. It may be cold comfort, but it’s actually a little bit true: when you love something, you use it over and over, and wear and tear become part of its history.

That’s kind of the situation with this house in the Minho province in Northern Portugal, with its granite facade made from the ruins of an old, long-demolished building.

Designed and built in Melgaço by the office Brandão Costa Architects, the rest of the house is a two-story ultra-modern and minimalist family home.

But the firm’s incorporation of an ancient stone wall encircling the property is a reminder of the history of this part of the country: this is near where Portugal was created, about 90 minutes south in Guimarães, a city whose medieval roots date back to the 10th century, where castles and ruins are woven into the everyday, as are Roman and medieval bridges.

When it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the city was described as “an exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town.”

Which brings us back to the castle house in Melgaço, with its beautiful merging of disparate looks and eras. It is an achievement in restraint to have a high-end home in such a history-rich region without making it stand out like a sore thumb, and something the neighbors surely appreciate.

The use of concrete throughout creates a sturdy, austere charm befitting the surrounding quiet countryside. Elsewhere on the grounds: a garden, swimming pool and concrete canopy for parking, along with more stone walls creating spaces and vantage points on the area.

Photos: © andré cepêda

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