CASA AMOR – CHAPTHER TWO, The architectural project


CASA AMOR – CHAPTHER TWO, The architectural project

Building found, check. Property purchased, check. Deep breath taken, check. Architect picked, check. Plans agreed, check. Project approved, check. And now starts the difficult part. Check this out.

To find the ideal and big enough place to create a boutique hotel in the historic center of Olhão was not easy, but the development of the architectural project was not easy either! Firstly, to begin the project, you have to find and choose the architect. Secondly, the project must be approved by the city’s architecture department taking in mind the budget constraints!

The architect is the keystone of a project like Casa Amor, especially for new owners who do not have any experience of construction, despite in the past having overseen the renovations of small properties in France. But Casa Amor is no small property and it calls for complete redevelopment, rather than renovation. This is a big, big project and demands true professionals with experience working on large-scale ventures.

Jack and Walter chose a local architect, despite the temptation to seek out Lisbon ‘stars’ of the design circuit. Her proximity, her knowledge of the city, its heritage, its history and her own, well earned track record of excellence, led them to choose Tatiana Bento of Sena Architects.

“Forming a relationship right from the start is vital,” says Jacques. “We barely knew each other and had to trust each other, have conviction in our beliefs, and share the same vision. Everyone comes to the table with their own ideas and desires, but also constraints. Sometimes tensions rise – the difference between dream and reality can be strong, and generate frustrations. You then have to work to ease any tensions, to find compromises, to accept that the taste of some is simply not the taste of others.

Jack and Walter were lucky. Their exchanges and confrontations, discussions and debates, led to an architectural project that best respects the historical character of the ancient Pensão Helena, built in 1870 and originally the home of Dr Pádua, while moving it into a new century and a new life.

Playing by the rules

Once agreed between the major players, the project had to be approved by Olhão’s architectural department. Obviously, an investor – individual or professional, Portuguese or international – can voice opinion and where necessary complain, but it must always be remembered that questions, and even objections, raised by officialdom, are supported by the need to protect the architectural capital of the town. “You can’t do anything you want, that’s the clear and reinforceable message,” says Walter.

The municipality seeks to protect its historic centre, which belongs to everyone and makes Olhão unique. The guidelines are there for a reason. No garish colours, no aluminum or plastic doors, only wooden windows, alignments that restore the facade to its nobility, balcony grids that respect tradition, no new construction visible from the street, conservation of the azuleijos when they have a historical value, protection of the vaults and interior warheads. There are also environmental and service requirements for future guests, that include the installation of TV sockets in the rooms.

Like municipal architects, we also want to protect and save the heritage of the ten and its inhabitants,” says Jack. “Obviously, this has a cost: wood is more expensive than plastic and needs a greater level of maintenance with sea air but it is the price that must be paid if we are to preserve buildings of importance to the community

Accepting spiralling costs

And now, with the project approved, it is time for Jack and Walter  to choose the builder and accept his budget. In this post-Covid period and the exponential resumption of growth, especially in China and the US, the demand for materials is exploding and then the prices of iron, wood and even cement are experiencing crazy inflation; it’s the harsh law of supply and demand.

Will the guys have sufficient funds to bring this architectural project to life? Will they have to give up their dream of the pretty patio and amazing pool? Will they have to go back to the municipality with a revised downward architectural project? Find out next month!

Words: Susi Rogol-Goodkind

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