Atelier Data built the Praia Grande house in Portugal’s Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The house is constructed using five volumes that have been clad in sheet metal facades and feature a projected cork finish. The house also has a swimming pool that has been made to resemble a lake. The five volumes have been placed to fill the empty space between the protected trees in the national park. Some of the trees have been lifted to allow vegetation to grow under them.
Designer: Atelier Data
“There was a lot of effort to contain the built mass of the house between the existing trees,” said Atelier Data architect Rafael Gomes. “Naturally, this prompted us for an early preview of the house, because we had to understand the full impact of the shadow areas, the constraints on the visual relationships and the space constraints that all of this would cause. This involved understanding exactly which trees were healthy enough to be viable, and following that study, how the work to preserve them should be constructed – from start to finish,” he continued. All five volumes that make up Praia Grande have been given a special use. A rectangular volume holds the entrance and the kitchen, while another volume next to it contains the main living room of the house.
A smaller volume near the entrance houses an office, while two other square volumes include en-suite bedrooms positioned across from each other. The volumes that hold the bedroom have been enhanced with their own courtyards, which provide easy access to the pool. All five volumes have been placed in a semi-circle, with a space in the center that houses the swimming pool. The pool, as mentioned earlier, was designed to mimic a lake.
Natural raw materials were used for the construction of the house. The walls and floors were made with non-toxic materials, which enhances the environment. “As we say informally, ‘we could drink or eat every part and ingredient in the house.’ The walls were painted with 100 percent natural colors. The floor was finished without the use of chemical varnish and the wooden elements are from sustainable harvesting processes and have been protected with completely formaldehyde-free products,” concluded Gomes. The unique form and structure of the house were inspired by the interesting dialogue between the environment and the volumes of the house. The national park was an important source of inspiration and greatly influenced the architecture of the house. Gomes said it affected the development of the house “physically and visually”.