Excerpt: Pedra Silva Arquitectos’ Aethos Ericeira Hotel is an architectural refurbishment project defining a new design of seafront buildings with an open-plan style. Colour and texture contribute to this concept by emphasising two sorts of interventions: classic, with light-colored walls paired with darker-framed fenestrations, and modern, with the texture and warmth of lumber combined with darker frames.
[Text as submitted by architect] The project was a refurbishment intervention of an existing building located on a protected site and was conditioned by numerous constraints. Despite the many restrictions, the firm’s work endeavoured to respect the existing site and building in order to preserve part of its history.
The original building was somewhat lost in several subsequent extensions, with conflicting architectural solutions and a confusing mix between traditional and modern elements. During the development of this project, the architects’ starting point was to strip down the buildings to their essence and to separate the elements they wanted to keep from those they chose to let go.
In this deep refurbishment intervention, there were a few key design iterations that completely shifted the direction of the project. One of those interactions was the change of the main entrance from the centre of the building to the sea-facing front, where the firm created a double-height area connecting the seascape and greeting users with that arrival experience. During the design process, they understood the importance of creating something distinguishable, emphasising the character of the space.
Although the existing building had arches, these had no significant expression and were deformed in scale. The architects gave them proportion, texture, depth, and mass to emphasise the presence of the walls and protect the room from direct sunlight during the warmer months. The windows were stripped down, adding a sense of proportion. The result is a space with well-defined architectural boundaries that is simultaneously delicate and plays with shadows and light.
A second key iteration was the nearly complete demolition of an existing basement on the edge of the pool area, containing an underground multipurpose room. Although this meant a significant reduction of the built area, it allowed for a wider connection between the pool, which previously had been surrounded by high walls on all sides, and the hotel building, paving the way for redesigning the pool’s surroundings into a seamlessly inviting series of interconnected levels.
During the design process, various other iterations helped shape the project, such as larger windows, which were a response to the brief requirements and site conditions. The larger windows allow light in and take advantage of the views rather than opting for the traditional smaller facade openings, especially in the social areas. In keeping with the firm’s goal of a clear distinction between old and new, they gave these windows their own visual identity and materiality, designing them as metallic boxes protruding from the facades, which went on to become one of the building’s defining features.
The revised layout defines a new organisation of the seafront buildings, with the open-plan style ambience the briefing called for. The main entrance, at ground level, with a double-height space, includes the lounge area and reception. Adjacent to this space lie the multipurpose and supporting services rooms, and on the opposite side lie the restaurant, bar area, and connection to a second building, as well as back-of-house areas. The main rooms, such as the multipurpose room, main entrance, and restaurant, have a direct connection to the exterior, taking advantage of its prime location with wide outdoor areas and large new windows that frame the seascape.
The first level includes mostly bedrooms, some of which follow the same layout as the existing building, but with improvements that meet current legislation. The main alterations relate to the creation of the mezzanine area, where one can relax and enjoy the views. The basement of this building houses all the service spaces, such as storage, staff areas, and a kitchen with dedicated service and delivery access.
The extension building, where most of the bedrooms are located, maintains the same layout on the ground and first levels, albeit slightly altered to meet current standards and the level of service intended, as well as new connections to the exterior spaces. At the edge of the extension building, occupying part of the old footprint of the basement, a new small building is created to give room to a spa, which is also connected to the pool area and gym building.
Pedra Silva Arquitectos believes it is important to highlight the deep intervention undertaken in the external areas, allowing the firm to maximise the use of spaces as well as create flows that work not only from a design perspective but also from a functional one.
In terms of shape, colour, and materiality, the challenge was to achieve a look and feel that was well integrated with both the existing building and the striking landscape. Pedra Silva Arquitectos achieved this by removing a few sloped roofs and opening the balconies, applying vertical wood slats and metallic panels covering the facades, and therefore reinterpreting them into clearer shapes and volumes.
Colour and texture play into this concept by helping to highlight these two types of interventions: the traditional one, with light-coloured walls paired with darker-framed fenestrations, and the modern one, with the texture and warmth of the timber combined with the darker frames. The use of these contrasting but complementary materials played a big role in the design development of the concept and the integration of the landscape and the interiors.