ALL THIS!
flowers of diligence and strength
with roots of wit,

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

Place

Door of Casa das Flores
A door of Casa das Flores.

CalmosCaldeira do Mosteiro, or simply Caldeira, is a hamlet in the parish of Mosteiro, in the Lajes das Flores municipality of the Flores island, in the Azores. It encompasses 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 … Continue reading Caldeira is located inside a volcanic crater known locally by the same name, Caldeira.3The Portuguese for “crater” is “caldeira”, akin to the Spanish word “caldera”, used in English for collapse volcanic craters. More precisely, Caldeira is nestled in the valley (the “baixio”) that cuts the rim of the volcanic caldera, allowing the Caldeira stream to go through. This stream is reinforced by two other streams that meander close to the houses of Caldeira and reaches the sea after going through a succession of small cascades and through the small “fajã”4A “fajã” is a flat surface resulting from collapsing cliffs or lava flows, usually 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 violent opening of the caldera to the sea and to the landslides that have been occurring, at a geological pace, ever since.

View of Casa dos Figos Maduros, Casa do Verde, and Casa da Gueixa
A view of Casa dos Figos Maduros, Casa do Verde, and Casa da Gueixa with the stream and plane trees in the middle.

The altitude of volcanic caldera in which the hamlet of Caldeira is located ranges from 230 meters, on the lowest point of the “baixio”, in its westernmost point, to between 375 and 435 meters, on the opposite, easternmost part of the rim. The volcanic caldera is located on the west coast of the Flores island, north of the village and head of parish of Mosteiro, and south of the extended “fajã” where Fajãzinha, Cuada, Fajã Grande, and Ponta are located, which is iconic for its grandiose and breathtaking orography, as well as for the large number of cascades and waterfalls the flow into it.

Window of Casa da Ganhoa
A window of Casa da Ganhoa.

Caldeira was abandoned in 1992, with the departure of its last inhabitant. The lack of electric power, which never got to Caldeira, and to the lack of running water, which got to Caldeira very late and served only a small set of houses, led the inhabitants to migrate to other villages or to emigrate to the USA and Canada. Since then, Caldeira entered into decline and today most of its buildings are in ruins.

Façade of Casa da Gueixa
The façade of Casa da Gueixa.

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 streams that meet near the upstream houses, on the small alluvium plain, are, together with the configuration of the valley and its insertion in the volcanic caldera, fundamental elements for the organization of the entire space and all of its views: the murmur of the streams, punctuated by the rustle of the tree leaves and amplified by the shape of valley, which insulates 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, 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.

Façades of Casa do Verde and Casa dos Figos Maduros
The façades of Casa do Verde and Casa dos Figos Maduros.

Caldeira consists of a central nucleus of ruins, consisting of both houses and barns, as well as a few houses and barns up and around the caldera. All the preexisting constructions are very interesting examples of the popular architecture of the Azores and, in particular, of Flores, some of them dating 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 “fires” (houses) and 20 souls. There are no recent constructions in Caldeira that detract from the ensemble, which remains as it was 30 years ago, when it was abandoned. The houses and barns have a diversity of structures and implantations, so that, as a whole, the hamlet has a higher historical heritage value than the sum of the high historical heritage values of its buildings.

Project

Interior of the Casa dos Maroiços
The interior of the Casa dos Maroiços.

Entering Caldeira, usually after a walk through 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 public spaces, so as to open a living Caldeira to visitors.

Interior of Casa das Figueiras
The interior of Casa das Figueiras.

The Calmos project consists in the creation of a small boutique hotel of high quality and comfort in the category of Tourism in Rural Area. 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, in which 14 small accommodation units will be made available: 13 two-bedroom houses and one two-bedroom house. In addition to the common / 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.

Interior of Casa das Flores
The interior of Casa das Flores.

The authenticity of Calmos is crucial. Therefore, emphasis will be placed on the heritage, culture, history, and traditions of the Azores, of Flores and in particular of Caldeira. The project intends, therefore, to spread heritage, culture, history, and traditions, making them part of the visitors’ experience. 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 offered to the visitor, also including, in the case of gastronomy, a restaurant to be open in a later stage of the project.

Interior of Casa da Gueixa
The interior of Casa da Gueixa.

Architecture is a fundamental part of authenticity. We intend not to create a museum of houses reconstructed according to some archetype of the Azorean or Florentine popular architecture. The 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.

Dinning area in the reception building
The dinning area in the reception building.

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 in an unapologetic way a totally contemporary architectural point of view.

Living room in the building of the reception
The living room in the building of the reception.

Seen from the exterior of the houses, Caldeira, which will remain almost invisible for those passing through the local road, especially after the old tree covering of the valley is replaced, will have the minimalistic magic of an abandoned village, making us stop and think, and inviting us to peacefully explore the place and uncover the secrets we imagine hidden inside its houses.

View of the houses
A view of the westernmost 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.

Center of Caldeira with granary
The center of Caldeira with a granary.

To achieve these goals, a renowned team was selected, led by the architectural office 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 to landscape architecture, the selected architect was Victor Beiramar Diniz, that collaborated with SAMI Arquitectos for their Casa C/Z project and that developed a vast number of projects in collaboration with the most prestigious architectural offices.

Casa da Ganhoa seen through granary
The Casa da Ganhoa seen through a granary.

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 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 of different natures (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, through a reduced environmental impact (energy savings, renewable energies, etc.).

Third12Translation by Manuel Menezes de Sequeira

Granary between Casa das Levadas and Casa das Figueiras
The granary between Casa das Levadas and Casa das Figueiras.

These houses where the wisdom of architects did nothing
and the ox sledge tracks on which the stones
are, more than stones, the strength
of having them brought and planted
under the future steps;

and these walls dividing,
containing,
over the body of the ground,
glades and greens

and fields climbing
– hard chords of ash –
the flanks of the hills up to where
the wind allows some
vegetable utility;

Poplar at sunset
A poplar at sunset.

these lands,
revolved,
excavated,
with cairns at the margins and scattered boulders;

these trees,
older than the memory
of the oldest of the old:
crooked citrus,
twisted figs
spreading, rising;

and the wells,
the mill races,
the bridges,

General View of Caldeira
A general View of Caldeira.

ALL THIS!
flowers of diligence and strength
with roots of wit,

behold, it is our
history.

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

  • Caldeira – A caldera is a collapse volcanic crater. Even keeps its name even if it forms a lake. The Portuguese term “lagoa”, corresponding to lake, is used in 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 hedges.
  • 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 oxen sledge for heavy loads or too rough terrain. The term is local.
  • Estaleiro – A granary. The usual Portuguese term is “espigueiro”. The names change for the various islands of the Azores.
  • Fajã – A flat extension of land resulting from collapsing cliffs or lava flows, usually by the sea. However, there are a few altitude fajãs.
  • Figo – A fig.
  • Figueira – A fig tree.
  • Flor / Flores – A flower.
  • Ganhoa – A seagull. The usual Portuguese term is “gaivota”.
  • Gueixa – A heifer. The usual Portuguese term is a “vitela”.
  • Levada – A mill race or a small channel.
  • Lugar – A 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 – A hill.
  • Palavra – A word.
  • Palheiro – A stone built barn.
  • Paraíso – Paradise.
  • Pulo – A 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 in Flores mostly for touristic reasons.
  • Quebrada – A landslide or the break caused by a landslide.
  • Ribeira – A stream.
  • Verde – Green.

References
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 Glossary above.
3 The Portuguese for “crater” is “caldeira”, akin to the Spanish word “caldera”, used in English for collapse volcanic craters.
4 A “fajã” is a flat surface resulting from collapsing cliffs or lava flows, usually 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 Translation by Manuel Menezes de Sequeira