• The Construction of Villa Além is a film that follows the construction of the house that Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati and his wife Tamara imagined for themselves, to live in for part of the year, somewhere on the Alentejo coast.

    The house is the end result of a long time idea that materialized into a significant moment of contemporary architecture. Throughout the film, it is forever incomplete, forever under construction. High concrete walls enclose a garden – a confined oasis – hidden from the rural landscape of old cork oaks. The house itself also hides: a single window creates a visual connection with the landscape and the bedrooms face a patio of blind walls whose only opening to the outside is an elliptical skylight. A long and narrow curved corridor links the living room to the bedrooms, where the slightest amount of natural light is permitted through two small slits, transposing us between light and darkness with each movement. Different layers of the space, from the darkest to the lightest, from the most recluse to the most open, create the singularity of living and being in this space.

    In this film, the building process is a spectrum, or perhaps, an excuse for an opportunity to document and experience a rare work. What is suggested is a journey through time to arrive at the inception of the idea. In the film, as in the house, one is left helpless in the succession of shots, alone with the images and the sounds, freed from words that might direct you, hoping that mystery and seduction may be found within the minimum of means and expressions.

The Construction of Villa Além is a movie that follows exactly what the title suggests. However, we do not watch its construction itself and it is difficult to answer if we actually see it finished. Construction becomes something permanent, a conceptual document that embraces both its physical side, and the very idea of architecture and its representation and perception. The rhythm, the duration of the plans, the succession of blocks of themes, colors, time and actions – or the lack of them – exist according to a coherent set and an idea of the construction of the film itself. Thus, and perhaps in contrast to the title’s pragmatism, the purpose in the film doesn’t seem totally clear and one has so few words that direct us throughout it. We remain helpless, alone with images and sounds, on the edge of solitude and melancholy, somewhat like the house. We privilege the experience to the understanding and in this sense this document mixes itself with the subjective interpretation of the architecture work.

This film is an independent project that started from a challenge of the Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati. The invitation came a few days before the beginning of the construction, and the lack of time and the constraint of means gave rise to an unusual team – 4 filmmakers – and to a peculiar process made only in two steps: filming and editing. The filming consisted of periodic visits to the construction site, according to the development of the works, and a trip to Switzerland, in order to record the context of its author, which is, of course, very different from the rural Alentejo. The montage started only after most of the shooting was done and was extended for about two years.

2017 / 55min / DCP / color / 16:9

a film by
Ana Resende, Miguel C. Tavares, Rui Manuel Vieira, Tiago Costa

Miguel C. Tavares, Rui Manuel Vieira, Tiago Costa

Miguel C. Tavares, Rui Manuel Vieira, Tiago Costa

Ana Resende

Rui Manuel Vieira

sound design and post-production
Eduardo Magalhães, José Ricardo Barboza

Eloy Monteiro