The only Portuguese in the list of the most promising architects in Europe wants more sustainable buildings

There is a building from Porto in 1960 where the roof, once made of cement, became a vegetable garden. Ladybugs are even born there. The change of scene was carried out by Maria João Andrade, architect of the MJARC studio – and the only Portuguese woman who was awarded 40 under 40 – and fits in with what she defines as a “constant concern” in her projects: sustainability.

Although every work is done where it is inserted, there is a common premise: “How can we build a building while keeping our footprint as small as possible? That’s my goal, ”he assures P3.

The two projects he applied for the award – created by the European Center for Architecture, Art Design and Urban Research and the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, which each year identifies and highlights 40 European architects and designers under 40 – show that . One of them, a house in the Douro Valley, is so integrated into the landscape that they even asked him where he was. “I am very happy. The house has a fantastic view, but nobody can see it and it has no effect on the mountain,” says the 40-year-old architect from Porto.

Not only is it discreet, it also has a garden roof, good sun exposure and a sustainable energy supply. Advantages that can only be achieved if one “understands the place where the intervention is carried out” and “experiments” a lot. “To be innovative, we have to try new materials, test them and understand how they work,” explains Maria João. After that, many “formulas and calculations” are required so that “the buildings come to an end with very low energy consumption needs” – which in turn implies “mastery from the point of view of materials that enable effectiveness”.

DR The house in the Douro Valley, awarded in the competition. DR

It is not an easy task, but it is urgent and becoming more urgent. The pandemic, the architect believes, has reaffirmed the need to “reduce our impact” and bring nature inside. Our home “has become a gym, a workplace, a children’s school,” which makes “this integration” even more important, he emphasizes. “Customers are also keen to create the natural environment, reduce space requirements and at the same time make the building more economical.”

The other project that led to the competition was a hospital building in Mirandela. He also tried to “open up the maximum amount of green space so that patients who are in the hospital can have rooms for decompression”. The green spaces and the fact that it is integrated into a farm allowed the building to adapt to what the architect advocates.

DR The Centro Nordial in Mirandela. DR

The award is received with “great satisfaction”: The prize for architects up to 40 years of age is “the youngest”; because it is attributed to a woman, he remembers that they exist in this “very masculine universe”. “We have big awards, architects with an international reputation, but the male presence on the global stage carries a lot more weight,” he complains. “This award reinforces and confirms that we have a young class and architects who want to mark their position in this strongly male market.”

Maria João is currently working on the project for a hotel in the Douro, where, as we can already guess, she wants to introduce “renewable energies and sustainability” without forgetting to “reduce the impact [do edifício] into the landscape and its integration into the use of materials such as wood ”. Another in Pedrógão Grande in the 2017 fire zone: “I was shocked when I got to the ground and saw that there were subsidies to cut the trees, they were overturned and there were no subsidies to remove them,” says they.

Now an investor wants to build a hotel on the site: “We will plant a native forest again and the hotel will be born in the middle of the trees,” he describes. The first goal, however, is reforestation. After all, projects “live the way they interact in the environments in which they are to be created”.

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