“During the recession, we did extensions. When the recession was over, I went to say that I did not want to see more extensions in front of me. Projects,” said Lusa Agency, the architect in charge.
Two projects prepared by Isabel Barrows finalists in the Residential Extension Renovation category for the 2021 Awards are aimed at recognizing the quality of works in the construction and architecture sectors by Seaview House, Shaolin Cottage and construction companies.
At Seaview House, a typical 1970s cottage by the sea off the south coast of Ireland in the Wexford region, the owner asked for a renovation of the family-inherited house, but Barros suggested something beyond the extension of the building.
“Even though it was 700 meters from the shore, the owners did not know that they could see the sea. The garden was very closed and they never thought to expand it upwards. When designing the house, I showed it to the floor above it, I could see the sea,” he explained.
Isabel Barros challenged the owners to make an extension that influenced the principles of feng shui, in the ‘Shaolin Cottage’, a country house built of stone in the same area, in which the new and the old find balance and unity.
“We have adopted a better approach to yin and yang in relation to the elements, the curves of expansion as opposed to the actual rectangular construction, the convergence inverses. There are a lot of philosophies behind this project,” he explained.
Even on a small scale, this type of residential extension can drag on for years, depending on clients’ financial capacity, planning standards, protection of historic buildings, and availability of builders.
“These are complex projects, more complicated than building a hotel. We handle a lot of restrictions, starting with a past existence that we want to respect in the name of sustainability, but at other times it doesn’t make sense,” the architect said.
The challenge of being creative and the impact on the transformation and improvement of existing buildings makes residential extensions more rewarding than new construction projects.
However, he learned two lessons from his experience, namely rejecting “unrealistic users on a budget” and, after all, when they have an imposed style.
Born in Angola, Isabel Barros has lived in the Lisbon area since childhood. He graduated in 2002 before moving to Ireland to work for a company with projects in Portugal.
Ten years ago, he set up a studio of his own, and has since worked in large residential subdivisions in industrial projects, offices or hotels.
In Ireland, he developed an interest in building conservation and is part of the Georgian Conservation Society, which promotes the preservation of Irish historical heritage.
“It was the quality of life that motivated me to live in Ireland, the long journeys between home and work, the green landscape around me, and when it came to work, I always found great recognition for what I did, which gives me satisfaction,” he told Lusa.
Prize winners will be announced on May 20.
The presence of two projects in the six finalists in the category, “the end of the work in recent years”, is a stimulus to the future, because it has already attracted more customers to a waiting list, which will last until at least 2022.
“Nomination alone, even if we don’t win, opens a door to success. It gives us visibility and the opportunity to choose the jobs we want to do,” he said.