Calmos – Caldeira do Mosteiro is a new eco-resort, under development, in the magical abandoned hamlet of Caldeira, in the amazingly beautiful Flores Island, in Azores.
ALL THIS!Pedro da Silveira, Terceiro1Pedro da Silveira, Fui ao Mar Buscar Laranjas: Poesia Reunida, ed. Urbano Bettencourt, 1st ed., Poesia 1 (Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Azores, Portugal: Instituto Açoriano de Cultura, 2019), … Continue reading
flowers of diligence and strength
with roots of wit,
Caldeira do Mosteiro, or simply Caldeira, is a hamlet in the parish of Mosteiro, in the Lajes das Flores municipality of the island of Flores, in the Azores. Composed of 10 houses and a few barns, 2In Portuguese, a house is a casa and a barn is a palheiro. When referring to the names of the houses, the names given correspond to the lodging units of the project. The names given are inspired by … Continue reading Caldeira is located inside a volcanic crater, a caldera, known locally as a caldeira.3The Portuguese for crater is caldeira, akin to the Spanish word caldera, used in English for collapsed volcanic craters. More precisely, Caldeira nestles in the valley (the baixio) that cuts the rim of the caldera, allowing the Caldeira stream to flow through. This stream is joined by two other brooks that meander close to the houses of Caldeira and reaches the sea after passing over a succession of small cascades and through the small Fajã4A fajã is a flat surface resulting from collapsed cliffs or lava flows, usually found by the sea. of Lagoarda. The Fajã de Lagoarda and, not far from it, the Quebrada5A quebrada is a break caused by a landslide. da Muda, attest to the ancient and abrupt opening of the caldera to the sea and to the landslides that have been occurring, at a geological pace, ever since.
The altitude of volcanic caldera in which the hamlet of Caldeira is located ranges from 230 meters, at the lowest point of the baixio, at its westernmost point, to between 375 and 435 meters, on the far side, the easternmost part of the rim. The caldera is located on the west coast of the island of Flores, north of the village of Mosteiro, which is the seat of the parish, and south of the extended fajã in which the villages and hamlets of Fajãzinha, Cuada, Fajã Grande, and Ponta are located, and which is iconic for its grandiose and breathtaking orography, as well as for the large number of cascades and waterfalls that flow into it.
With the departure of its last inhabitant, Caldeira was abandoned in 1992. The lack of electric power, which never reached Caldeira, and the lack of running water, which reached the hamlet very late and then only to a small set of houses, led the inhabitants to move to other villages or to emigrate to the USA and Canada. Little by little, the hamlet fell into decline and today most of its buildings are in ruins.
To visit Caldeira is to enter a magical place, where one dreams in silence. Its houses face the interior of the valley, towards the small Ribeira do Barreiro, which meanders between the houses and ends up flowing into the Ribeira da Caldeira. This small stream, or rather the two small brooks that merge near the upstream houses, on the small alluvium plain, together with the configuration of the valley and its setting in the caldera, are fundamental elements for the organization of the entire space and all of its views: the murmur of the brooks and stream, punctuated by the rustle of the tree leaves and amplified by the shape of valley, which insulates it from outside noise, is a constant. The Caldeira valley is one of the most densely wooded spots in the caldera, if you discount a few woods of the monotonous, but inevitable, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). Planes and poplars, as well as some native and endemic trees, form a sweet riparian sequence among and around the houses. Thus, houses and barns, streams and trees, inside their valley within the caldera, form a harmonious whole, evoking feelings of calm, peace, and contemplation.
Caldeira consists of a central nucleus of ruins, of both houses and barns, as well as a few houses and barns up and around the caldera. All the pre-existing constructions are interesting examples of the popular architecture of the Azores and, in particular, of Flores. Some of them date from at least the 19th century, though it is possible they originate from earlier centuries, given that there are written references to the hamlet dating from at least 1814, at which time it was said to have five “hearths” (houses) and 20 souls. There are no recent constructions in Caldeira that detract from the ensemble, which remains as it was, when it was abandoned some 30 years ago. The houses and barns have a diversity of structures and settings, so that the hamlet, as a whole, has a higher historical heritage value than the sum of the high historical heritage values of its buildings.
Entering Caldeira, usually after hiking along the old canadas (trails) of the parishes of Mosteiro and Fajãzinha, is like entering a dream. It is this dream that we want others to experience through the Calmos project. The project will renovate most of the houses and barns, and contribute to the enhancement of the public spaces, so as to open a living Caldeira to visitors.
The Calmos project consists of the creation of a small eco-resort in Flores, Azores. It will be an establishment of high quality and comfort in the category of Rural Tourism. The core of the project will be 10 renovated buildings, all good examples of the popular architecture of the Azores and, in particular, of Flores. These buildings will house 14 accommodation units: 13 one-bedroom houses and one two-bedroom house. In addition to the common spaces and support premises needed for a project of this nature, the development will include a reception, a bar with a dining space, which will initially serve only breakfast and light meals, a swimming pool, and a private parking lot.
The authenticity of Calmos is crucial. Emphasis will therefore be placed on the heritage, culture, history, and traditions of the Azores, of Flores, and in particular of Caldeira. The project intends, thereby, to spread heritage, culture, history, and traditions, making them part of the visitors’ experience. To that end, the project also intends to always use authentic toponymy and specific regional terminology (e.g., casa-de-alto-e-baixo,6A house with two floors. Literally, a “upper-and-lower-house”. casa em osso,7A house without plaster on the outside walls. Literally, a “house in the bone”. estaleiro,8A granary. On the mainland it would be espigueiro. lugar,9A hamlet. On the mainland it would usually be aldeia, a word not used in the Azores. canada,10A path, usually between walls or hedges. pulo,11A cascade. On the mainland it is usually cascata or queda de água, though pulo is also used in some places. etc.). Another important aspect of regional and local culture and traditions is the gastronomy and regional products that will be on offer to the visitor. A restaurant will be opened at a later stage of the project.
Architecture is a fundamental part of authenticity. Our intention is not to create a museum of houses reconstructed according to some archetype of the Florentine or Azorean popular architecture. Our aim is not to create a pastiche of what we imagine Caldeira and its life to have been. The past is the past. It is necessary to remember it, and to value it, but not to recreate it.
The renovation will preserve and reinforce the spirit of the place, which in some respects evokes the magic of fake ruins found in some 18th and 19th century English gardens (e.g., Monserrate, in Sintra, Portugal). In other words, the intention is not to rebuild, except where reconstruction is possible and appropriate, especially when the materials are still in place, but rather to consolidate the existing ruins, making them habitable, and adopting a totally contemporary architectural point of view in an unapologetic way.
Seen from the exterior of the houses, Caldeira, which will remain almost invisible for those passing through the local road, especially once the old tree canopy of the valley is restored, will have the minimalistic magic of an abandoned village, making us stop and reflect, inviting us to peacefully explore the place and uncover the secrets we imagine hidden inside its houses.
The interiors will contrast strongly with the exterior: the contemporary comfort, the light, and the warm aura of the interiors, seen through the windows, especially at dusk, will invite us to enter. The windows will be a boundary between two very distinct worlds, framing beautiful paintings. From the inside, the windows will paint scenes of the magical exterior. From the outside, they will be dark openings into a mysterious inside which will lighten up at dusk, painting interior scenes of comfort and light.
To achieve these goals, a renowned team was selected, led by the architectural firm SAMI Arquitectos, with an excellent track record in the Azores and winner of several international awards, including the 2015 AADIPA European Award for Architectural Heritage Intervention, which they won (together with another studio) in the Intervention in Built Heritage category with their project Casa E/C that, according to the jury, “establishes an intense dialogue between differing moments, rehabilitating the ruined building with materials that synchronously evolve through time, reactivating the sense of place in relation to the landscape.” As for the landscape architecture, the selected architect was Paulo Palma, who recently started to collaborate with SAMI Arquitectos.12The landscape architect chosen initially was Victor Beiramar Diniz, but, for professional reasons, the project was handed over to Paulo Palma.
Besides preserving and reinforcing the magic of the place, the project will be economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. Economic sustainability will be guaranteed by an offer that will be attractive to the medium-high and high-end segments of tourism, both through the magic of the place and the comfort of the accommodations, and through the availability of a diverse set of experiences (sensorial, didactic, cultural, etc.). Social sustainability will be ensured through a strong connection with the local economy, essentially of an agricultural nature, making available a diverse set of local products and experiences. Environmental sustainability, which is probably the facet of sustainability with a stronger impact in the architecture of Caldeira, will be guaranteed both during the consolidation and construction processes, and during the operation of the hotel, through a reduced environmental impact (energy savings, renewable energies, etc.).
Third13Translation by Manuel Menezes de Sequeira
These houses where the wisdom of architects did nothing
and the ox sledge trails on which the stones
are, more than stones, the strength
of having been brought and placed
under future steps;
and these walls, dividing,
over the body of the ground,
glades and greens
and fields climbing
– hardened chords of ash –
the flanks of the hills up to where
the wind allows some
with cairns at the margins and scattered boulders;
older than the memory
of the oldest of the old:
and the wells,
flowers of diligence and strength
with roots of wit,
behold, this is our
That was not written
– names of heroes –
in the textbooks.
Too big for dead words.
Pedro da Silveira, Fui ao Mar Buscar Laranjas: Poesia Reunida, ed. Urbano Bettencourt, 1st ed., Poesia 1 (Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Azores, Portugal: Instituto Açoriano de Cultura, 2019), 138–39.
Glossary of terms
- Baixio – A small alluvial valey.
- Caldeira – A caldera is a collapsed volcanic crater. It keeps its name even if it forms a lake. The Portuguese term lagoa, corresponding to lake, is used on Flores mostly for touristic reasons.
- Casa – A house.
- Em osso – A house or an exterior wall of house without plaster. Literally, “in the bone”.
- Canada – A path, usually between walls or hedgerows.
- Casa-de-alto-e-baixo – A house with two floors. Literally, a “upper-and-lower-house”.
- Cerrado – A small glade, usually surrounded by a wind-protecting hedge.
- Corção / Corções – An ox-drawn sledge for heavy loads or very rough terrain. The term is local.
- Estaleiro – Granary. Although the usual Portuguese term is espigueiro, various terms are used on the islands of the Azores.
- Fajã – An extension of flat land resulting from collapsing cliffs or lava flows. Although they are usually by the sea, there are a few fajãs at higher altitude.
- Figo – Fig.
- Figueira – Fig tree.
- Flor / Flores – Flower/s.
- Ganhoa – Seagull. The usual Portuguese term is gaivota.
- Gueixa – Heifer. The usual Portuguese term is a vitela. The masculine version is gueixo.
- Levada – A millrace or a small channel.
- Lugar – Hamlet. On mainland Portugal it would usually be aldeia, but this word is not used in the Azores.
- Maduro – Ripe.
- Maroiço – A cairn constructed with the stones excavated from a field.
- Outeiro – Hill.
- Palavra – Word.
- Palheiro – Stone-built barn.
- Paraíso – Paradise.
- Pulo – Cascade. Literally, “a jump”. On the mainland it is usually cascata or queda de água, though pulo is also used in some places. The Portuguese term cascata is used on Flores mostly for touristic reasons.
- Quebrada – A landslide or the break caused by a landslide.
- Ribeira – Stream or brook.
- Verde – Green.
|↑1||Pedro da Silveira, Fui ao Mar Buscar Laranjas: Poesia Reunida, ed. Urbano Bettencourt, 1st ed., Poesia 1 (Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Azores, Portugal: Instituto Açoriano de Cultura, 2019), 138–39.|
|↑2||In Portuguese, a house is a casa and a barn is a palheiro. When referring to the names of the houses, the names given correspond to the lodging units of the project. The names given are inspired by poems of Pedro da Silveira. They are not translated in the text. Please refer to these in the Glossary of terms above.|
|↑3||The Portuguese for crater is caldeira, akin to the Spanish word caldera, used in English for collapsed volcanic craters.|
|↑4||A fajã is a flat surface resulting from collapsed cliffs or lava flows, usually found by the sea.|
|↑5||A quebrada is a break caused by a landslide.|
|↑6||A house with two floors. Literally, a “upper-and-lower-house”.|
|↑7||A house without plaster on the outside walls. Literally, a “house in the bone”.|
|↑8||A granary. On the mainland it would be espigueiro.|
|↑9||A hamlet. On the mainland it would usually be aldeia, a word not used in the Azores.|
|↑10||A path, usually between walls or hedges.|
|↑11||A cascade. On the mainland it is usually cascata or queda de água, though pulo is also used in some places.|
|↑12||The landscape architect chosen initially was Victor Beiramar Diniz, but, for professional reasons, the project was handed over to Paulo Palma.|
|↑13||Translation by Manuel Menezes de Sequeira|