05 Apr 2021 • Living
At eye-level with treetops, this Portuguese home is designed to blend into nature
Architect João Marques Franco calls a residence he designed among the trees in northern Portugal the ‘Anti-Lockdown House’ – a place where being sequestered doesn’t feel like a lockdown.
In a densely vegetated location, can architecture be built without competing with or obstructing the nature around it? João Marques Franco put his belief – that yes, you can – to the test for the construction of a home in Portugal’s lush Ponte da Barca region. The architect aimed to place it ‘as close to the century-old oak and chestnut trees without ever touching them’. The fruits of that labour – a 140-sq-m spread that effortlessly communicates with the privileged environs – confirms Marques Franco’s notion. Erected for a painter and art history teacher, the house is situated at a sharp slope, putting the residents at eye level with the treetops, ever-changing in movement and colour.
Lined with a wraparound terrace, the concrete structure’s exterior walls are all glass to open up the vantage points from inside. The architect explains that his team employed an open-plan layout so that it’d always be possible to see the outdoors. As a result, it’s the furniture that does the work of defining individual living areas, with the help of structural white cabinetry and partition walls. The ceilings are left rough, while the concrete flooring has a smooth polished finish. The owners were ‘instrumental to the process’, Marques Franco notes. ‘With their spirit and such an amazing place, all we tried to do was to make the house get out of the way’ – leaving the interiors minimal to truly emphasize nature’s beauty.