Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati has artfully incorporated concrete fins into the design of a residence situated in Alentejo, approximately 10 km from the Atlantic Ocean. These fins, reminiscent of the open flaps of a box, elegantly splay both outward and inward, creating a shaded sanctuary for an internal garden. The house is nestled in a rural region of central Portugal, celebrated for its lush vineyards and cork forests, the latter of which provides the bottle stoppers essential to preserving the area’s fine wines.
Villa Além Technical Information
- Architects: Valerio Olgiati
- Location: Alentejo, 3400, Portugal
- Project Year: 2014
- Photographs: © Archive Olgiati
The character of the complex is chiefly defined by the surrounding walls, which create the impression of petals that close and open towards the sky.– Valerio Olgiati
Villa Além Photographs
Blending with Nature: Olgiati’s Red Concrete Masterpiece
Nestled amidst the picturesque cork forests of Alentejo, just a few miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, stands Valerio Olgiati’s Villa Além – a structure that merges with the rusty earth it stands on. The Swiss architect’s design is an ode to the raw beauty of the Alentejo region, renowned for its vineyards and cork oak forests, which are central to Portugal’s wine industry.
The most captivating aspect of Villa Além is its imposing 5.5-metre-high red cast-in-situ concrete walls, purposefully designed to blend seamlessly with the natural hue of the surrounding terrain. These walls not only conceal the single-story dwelling from external view, but they also give the villa its unique character, evoking images of petals that gracefully open and close towards the sky.
“The primary intention here is to create a secluded garden,” Olgiati articulates, capturing the essence of his design. This emphasis on seclusion and harmony with nature is further reinforced by the walls’ splayed design, reminiscent of an open box, which provides shade and creates a desert-like ambiance – dry, stony, and dusty.
The property, aptly named Villa Além, translates to Villa Beyond, and indeed, it goes beyond traditional architectural constructs. The gardens, visible through vast openings in the external walls, showcase succulents and shrubs, protected from local free-roaming livestock by sturdy metal doors. Dominating the center of this oasis is a trench-styled swimming pool with a luxurious marble base.
Internally, the villa boasts raw concrete walls, offering a cave-like ambiance that juxtaposes the sunlit courtyard. Small cork details, integrated as furnishings, pay homage to the enveloping cork forests. A unique arch-shaped corridor extends across the front living spaces, leading to three sequentially arranged bedrooms and bathrooms. Each bedroom grants access to a private patio set against the villa’s expansive perimeter wall.
But it’s not just the bedrooms that offer a retreat. As Olgiati points out, “A curved hallway allows the inhabitants to retreat into shadows and into the introverted private rooms.” Further, the dining room’s gabled structure and the centrally located living room offer panoramic views. From here, residents can gaze over the courtyard pool and through a gateway in the southern garden wall, leading to the dense woodland that stretches beyond.
Villa Além, in essence, is a manifestation of Olgiati’s vision of architectural harmony – a design that doesn’t merely exist in its environment but becomes an intrinsic part of it.
Villa Além Plans
About Valerio Olgiati
Valerio Olgiati is a renowned Swiss architect known for his minimalist and conceptual approach to design. Born in Chur in 1958, Olgiati has garnered international acclaim for his unique architectural projects that often merge simplicity with profound spatial experiences. His works, characterized by the innovative use of materials and intricate interplay of light and shadow, reflect a deep understanding of the relationship between space, environment, and human interaction. Throughout his career, Olgiati’s designs have been celebrated for their poetic essence and timeless architectural significance.
NOTES AND ADDITIONAL CREDITS
- Collaborators: Patricia Da Silva (project manager office Olgiati), Daisuke Kokufuda, Liviu Vasiu
- General Contractor: Matriz Sociedade de Construções Lda.