When a structure becomes a ruin, that’s usually the end of it. In a few cases, however, that’s just the end of a chapter. From those ruins rise new structures which instead of wiping out any trace of the old building are designed to instead embrace the history of the site. This is how these houses came to be. They’re the link between past and present and they celebrate the unique charm of the ruins that surround them, making them a part of their design.
This is a house located in Parada do Monte, in Portugal. It covers an area that measures 349 square meters and it was built here in 2016 by Nuno Brandao Costa. The existing ruins inspired the architects to build an extension to the original house and to blur the boundaries between past and present by using local materials. The extension contains the lounge area and three bedrooms and it’s a partially underground structure. On one side it features a stone wall made with materials from a demolished local building.
As it turns out, Portugal hides a bunch of similar gems. One of them is the E/C House built by SAMI-arquitectos in 2013 on Pico Island. The starting point for the project was a ruin. The architects and the clients were immediately drawn to this historic feature and agreed to find a way to preserve it and to value it. The holiday house that was built here takes advantage of the ruin. In fact, the house was built inside these ruins, with openings that line up with the ones of the former building, allowing the stone walls to become a frame for the new structure.
Organica Arquitectura also built an interesting residence in Portugal. This time the house is situated in Sintra and covers an area of only 142 square meters. There were still parts of an old structure on the site and they were recovered and integrated into the new design. The residence appears to emerge out of the ruins. The exterior walls of the old structure were preserved and the new house was built inside of them, extending to the back of the site.
This house in Saka, Latvia uses the ruins of an old structure as a shield against the strong winds but also as a cover that lets it blend in more easily and become a part of the landscape. The building was designed by NRJA back in 2002 and was named House in Ruins. The ruins are from a 19th century traditional barn and they allowed the architects to use strong contrasts in their favor. The new, modern house with its glass facades and clean lines is set against the rough stone walls and the result is a really interesting combo.
Located in Northern Italy, this holiday home hides inside the ruins of an old farmhouse. These were integrated into the new two-storey residence and the architects at Bergmeisterwolf successfully blended the two styles by using traditional stonemason techniques to rebuild the old walls and to recreate their original design. They also used pre-weathered wood on some of the walls and charred timber for the garage situated at the rear of the site.
Speaking of houses with old and deceiving shells, check out this 200 year old home renovated by Buchner Brundler Architekten. It’s a charming summer home that doesn’t look very promising on the outside. However, that’s just a cover. The interior couldn’t be more contrasting. Inside the house the design is clean, minimalist and filled with light which comes as a surprise considering how rustic and unassuming the exterior is. You could easily assume this is a ruin, forgotten by everyone, but you’d be very wrong.
In 2013 architect Fernando Coelho completed the RM House, a very special residence located in Felgueiras, Portugal. It occupies an area of 540 square meters and it was built within the walls of two old ruins. The outer walls were consolidated and part of the roofs was demolished. The new structure emerges from these ruins and follows the natural curves of the terrain. It’s organized on two floors with a clear distinction between the public and private areas.
This is the White House, a private residence situated on Coll Island in Scotland. From a distance, it looks like a ruin and it actually is in a sense. WT Architecture came up with a plan to consolidate the structure and to transform it into a modern home. The spectacular property has a beautiful glazed design concealed inside the massive stone walls. The project was completed in 2010.
The creative team from WT Architecture is also responsible for the wonderful conversion of this old mill on the Scottish Borders. The project concerns the transformation of the mill into a modern residence. This was done by preserving and consolidating the original stone walls and building a new independent structure within these. Completed in 2014, the project was a finalist at the RIBA House of the Year awards in 2015.