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Ground Floor Houses

The construction of single floor houses is an interesting challenge with advantages in accessibility and cost, as well as in the economy of construction, maintenance and air conditioning.

If we look at our traditional architecture we find the single floor house in the south of Portugal, Ribatejo, Alentejo and Algarve.

Here we find some examples that have endured over the years and are very particular to each region.

During the holidays we revisit these houses for periods of leisure and rest, but each one of these houses finds its origin in the local lifestyle and architecture.

We have very specific examples which have become ex-libris of their regions, such as the Sado hut, which found its natural and characteristic variation in the Comporta area with its thatched roof and cladding, as well as the typical Alentejo house which has become more common as the bar and single storey house.

Within modern architecture, it is also in these areas of the country that we find the terraced houses. The reason for this is mainly because in order to achieve a single storey house with the size that we want, it is necessary to have an adequate plot of land, both in terms of size and topography.

The terrain has to allow, both from a legal and functional point of view, the design of a house that is correctly articulated and that develops in accordance with the requirements of the defined programme. The terrain should be flatter, so that the house does not have to assume large changes in elevation in the dialogue that it promotes with the terrain. Thinking about the single-storey house has some specific aspects in the way it is designed. The functional organization chart has to be organized within a single floor.

Within this organogram it must be clear which are the social zones, the private zones and the service zones and how they are articulated between themselves through corridors, hallways, passages, etc.

The articulation with the exterior also gains some weight, since the external leisure zones should directly confront the social zones and the bedroom zone should be connected to calmer zones in the exterior. According to the style of use of each family, the house can be adapted, but it is advisable that the house should be orientated according to the light and the positioning of the sunTraditionally the social areas are turned to the South and West, the bedrooms to the East and the service areas to the North, such as the kitchen, the laundry room, etc. It is however admissible that the house gains another disposition according to the use and the pretension of its owners, factor that we clarify and define in the project phase so that the house works for who inhabits it.

From the practical point of view of the construction we find some differences between the single storey house and the multi-storey houses.

The structure of a single floor house can be lighter and simpler in that it only has to deal with the weight of its own roof or any terrace that is thought about the house. This allows a wider choice of materials and the use of the roof structure itself to give more headroom to the interior rooms.

It also makes it easier to open up larger spans and optimises the location of the structural parts, as there is no projection onto upper or lower floors. The ground floor house brings great advantages from the point of view of its use.

From the point of view of accessibility, it is a type of house which facilitates movement throughout its entire usable area, for example, for a person with reduced mobility. From the point of view of climatization, it is a house that deals more easily with the different systems of heating and cooling, because there is a reduction of losses through the vertical circulations.

Ground floor houses allow you to create a fluidity of spaces quite easily. The game of walls allows a controlled relationship between the spaces that are intended to close and open and the fact that all spaces function at the same level, or at approximate levels, which facilitates this game of dialogue between the various pieces of the puzzle.

It is very common in ground floor houses for the exterior space to function as an extension of the interior space, and to be one more element of articulation between the various moments of the house.

As a summary we can say that the strong points of interest of the houses on the ground floor are:

  • Larger freedom of design of the structure that is reflected in a greater freedom of design of the interior space;

  • Greater freedom of movement insofar as it facilitates accessibility because everything is organised on the same level;

  • Greater relationship with the exterior space, as a result of all the spaces being able to communicate directly with the exterior;

  • Larger openings;

  • Greater economy of construction;

  • Simpler and quicker construction;

  • Easier air conditioning and maintenance cost control.


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