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Quinta do Rei Villa

A Landmark Architecture

Contaminar Arquitectos

Quinta do Rei Villa
By Francesco Pagliari -

Standing at the summit of a steep hillside on the outskirts of Leiria, a coastal city in central Portugal, this residence by Contaminar Arquitectos is a perfect example of a landmark building. The project is posited on creating a close relationship between the human-made and its natural surroundings, the hilltop location naturally suggesting the idea of an observation point with views in every direction, including the urban fabric below.

A contemporary version of the traditional hilltop watch tower, the building’s assertive presence speaks to the complex interweave between architecture and its natural environment. The geometry of a rudimentary watch tower has been mutated into a parallelepiped that gradually “deforms” as the building rises. Its prominent position demanded not only that the building meet contemporary requirements of form and function but that it would also incorporate features of the natural landscape, becoming almost a natural landmark in the environment, the culmination of the natural morphology, a distinctive but logical extension of the landscape.

The dynamic form created by rotating the baseline orthogonal shape of the traditional tower is further energized by façades whose projecting, oblique or parallel bands are stepped back on the upper floors to create a slender crown. The building’s fragmented form lends additional plasticity to the façades, underlining the intersection of the floors and breaking up what would otherwise be a massive volume on the summit of a variegated landscape, an extraneous object rather than a manmade building echoing the natural features all around. The multiplicity of components is the hallmark feature of the design. Its dynamic character is further underlined by the extensive projection over the hillside. On the façades, the wrap-around bands dip and rise as the elevations project out from the base to a side peak, only to recede at the summit, the...

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