Estoril Sol by Gonçalo Byrne 11.08.11

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Lisbon-based architect Gonçalo Byrne has completed the Estoril Sol Residences in the seaside town of Cascais, Portugal. On a sloping site between the coast and a park, glazed cubes are stacked on top of each other in a game of high-tech tetris. The building replaces a 1960s hotel with 110 luxury apartments alongside offices and commercial space. A partially submerged base contains a spine connecting the buildings, and also provides public and private parking.

When approaching the project, Byrne's first concern was to re-establish the relationship between the park and the coast, which the "wall-like" hotel had blocked. After demolition, the slope's gradient was softened and landscaped.The porous form of the new building was conceived to allow the park to spill through and around it. A four-storey, 42m-long bridge provides the most dramatic expression of this idea while a new public path leads from the coast to the park above.

The building also has a series of cantilevers, high above this landscape. According to Byrne, the building acts as a "large-scale sculpture", visible from afar and acting as an iconic gateway to the park and town. This sculptural play of volume and void, bridge and cantilever made the building a challenging piece of engineering, which Byrne and his team clearly relished. The structural complexity is celebrated in the apartments themselves where exposed I-beams are left untreated in the otherwise minimalist rooms. It's a nice rough touch in a mainly sleek building.

Byrne sees his building as a new typology, one that goes "beyond the tower and block"to create a "more articulated object". He is influenced by the Russian constructivists who experimented with such hybrid forms in the 1920s and 30s. The constructivists have inspired many contemporary architects and Byrne's language of stacked and offset boxes has more recent echoes. Formally reminiscent of some of the work of MVRDV or OMA, its clean-cut, aluminium-and-glass aesthetic is closer to the high-tech school of Foster.

Byrne sees Steven Holl's Linked Hybrid building in Beijing (Icon 066) as a close relativeof the Estoril Sol. Like Holl, Byrne tries to 
bring a public and social dimension to what is essentially a very private, capital-driven project. While he only partially succeeds in this aim, it is still a confident and elegant piece of architectural showmanship.

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Image

Fernando Guerra, FG+SG

 

Words

Duncan Marsden

quotes story

Byrne's first concern was to re-establish the relationship between the park and the coast, which the "wall-like" hotel had blocked

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