Having worked on Pico Island in the Atlantic Ocean off Portugal for 15 years, SAMI navigate the existing architecture and landscape with such familiarity that their work appears nested—often built out of the black basalt rock of the island and shaped by careful understandings of context, topography, archaic built forms, and climate. The island’s predominantly rural and volcanic geography has, also during their time working on it, undergone a growth in international tourism. Their project, Casa Âncora, demonstrates one of the ways they negotiate the demands of imaging the isolated island for tourism, while maintaining the social importance of a historical building. Casa Âncora—a local institution in São Roque do Pico—played a vital role in the social life of the isolated village. Approached by a client for a new building, indeed the only contemporary one in the village, SAMI’s design reimagines what is specific to the local notion of everyday life by way of the traditions of the European cafés of the 19th century that were so vital to the intellectual and social life of the burgeoning metropolis. Photographer Paulo Catricia has captured the site in context in aluminium based prints that illustrate the geological dimensions and the white stone Casa, both of which melt into the reflections of the Garland Gallery.
SAMI-arquitectos was established in 2005 by Inês Vieira da Silva and Miguel Vieira. Its projects are informed by a sensitive approach to place and a careful reading of history and tradition in a quiet but eloquent dialogue between space, material, and place. The practice has won recognition from architectural critics and numerous national and international awards, among them the BSI Swiss Architectural Award 2016 in which they were finalists, the European Award Architectural Heritage AADIPA (2015), the X BIAU and IX BIAU Award (2014, 2016), the Tektónica/OA National Architecture Prize (2009), and second prize for the National Prize of Architecture in Wood 2011 Award.