House in Monsaraz

Aires Mateus
Monsaraz, Portugal

A vacation home tucked into a hillside which opens up through a concrete dome to views of Lake Alqueva in Portugal.

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Photos: © Joao Guimaraes

The great Alqueva Lake, located on the frontier of Extremadura and the Portuguese Alentejo, is the largest artificial lake in Western Europe, with an area of 250 square kilometers and more than 1,160 kilometers of interior coast. Since the inauguration of the dam in the year 2002, the lake is navigable and can hold all sorts of water sports and activities. All this has turned the area into an attractive destination for tourists. In this vast landscape one can barely see this holiday residence, which is tucked into the terrain using the slope of the hill. It is a construction that tries to go unnoticed and, at the same time, face the vastness of the lake.

The first objective is achieved thanks to the green roof that blurs the boundaries of the building, which only unveils the stairs and courtyards. On the other hand, faced with the boundless extents of the lake, the house requires a center: a protected courtyard embracing the water. It uses the terrain to cast a dome that covers the social areas and is the life center of the house: a shaded space overlooking the lake, around which the more public areas of the house are placed. Meanwhile, the bedrooms open onto circular patios clad with white ceramic pieces.

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