Hotel Focus – Aethos Ericeira Hotel, Portugal

Pedra Silva Architects transformed boutique hotel Aethos Ericeira in Portugal, addressing architectural inconsistencies from previous extensions.

Words By Toby Maxwell

PEDRA SILVA ARCHITECTS has unveiled Aethos Ericeira, a boutique hotel in Ericeira, Portugal. The project was a refurbishment of an existing building located on a protected site, and was shaped by numerous constraints.

The original building was somewhat lost in several extensions that had taken place over the years, with conflicting architectural solutions and a confusing mix between traditional and modern elements. During the development of this project, the architects’ starting point was to strip down the buildings to their essence, and to separate the elements they wanted to keep and those they chose to let go.

Aethos Ericeira Hotel’s façade

In this deep refurbishment exercise, there were a few key design iterations that completely shifted the direction of the project. One of those interactions was the change of the main entrance, from the centre of the building to the sea-facing front, where a double-height area was created to connect with the seascape and greet arriving guests.

A second key iteration was the nearly complete demolition of an existing basement on the edge of the pool area, containing an underground multipurpose room. Although this meant a significant reduction of the built area, it allowed for a wider connection between the pool – which previously had been surrounded by high walls on all sides – and the hotel building, paving the way for redesigning the pool’s surroundings into a seamlessly inviting series of interconnected levels.

Large windows were a response to the brief’s requirements and site conditions.

During the design process, various other iterations helped shape the project, such as creating larger windows, which were a response to the brief requirements and site conditions. The new windows allow light in and take advantage of the views, rather than opting for the traditional smaller facade openings. In keeping with the goal of creating a clear distinction between old and new, these windows were given their own visual identity and materiality, designing them as metallic boxes protruding from the facades.

The revised layout defines a new organisation of the seafront buildings, with an open-plan-style ambience the briefing called for. The main entrance, at ground level, with a double-height space, includes the lounge area and reception. Adjacent to this space lies the multipurpose and supporting services rooms, and on the opposite side lie the restaurant, bar area and connection to a second building, as well as back-of-house areas.

The first level includes mostly bedrooms, some of which follow the same layout as the existing building, but with improvements to meet current building regulations. The main alterations relate to the creation of the mezzanine area where guests can relax and enjoy the views.

The extension building, where most of the bedrooms are located, maintains the same layout on the ground and first levels, albeit slightly altered to meet current standards and the level of service intended, as well as new connections to the exterior spaces. At the edge of the extension building, occupying part of the old footprint of the basement, a new small building has been created to house a spa, which is also connected to the pool area and gym building.

In terms of shape, colour and materiality, the challenge was to achieve a look and feel that was well integrated with both the existing building and the striking landscape. The architects achieved this by removing a few sloped roofs and opening the balconies, applying vertical wood slats and metallic panels covering the facades, reinterpreting them into clearer shapes and volumes.

Colour and texture play into this concept by helping to highlight these two types of interventions: the traditional, with light-coloured walls paired with darker framed fenestrations, and the modern, with the texture and warmth of the timber combined with the darker frames. The use of these contrasting but complementing materials played a big role in the design development of the concept and integration of the landscape and the interiors.

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