In a recondite place abounding in cork trees in the Alentejo region of Portugal, ten kilometers from the Atlantic coast, is the villa which the Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati has built for himself and his wife. Four concrete walls rise up to 5.5 meters and fold to give shade to and keep winds out of an inner garden where a longitudinally positioned swimming pool establishes the symmetry axis of the complex. Seemingly taking on a secondary role, the building is situated along one of the four sides, at the south end of the pool, and hides within it, behind a curving wall that separates the living room, the more private living spaces.
From the architect. This project is located in Alentejo about 10 km inland from the Atlantic Ocean. The area features a hilly, rural landscape and is covered with beautiful old cork oaks.
The climate is mild and dry. The primary intention here is to create a secluded garden. The surrounding walls are up to five and a half meters high to provide the necessary shade and the entire impression created is one of a desert, dry, stony and dusty. Everything is constructed from slightly reddish, in situ concrete.
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. The dwelling itself is invisible and develops across a single floor behind the surrounding walls.
The living room is located at the end of a strict axis leading from north to south. It overlooks the pool and offers a view through the southern door in the garden wall across a flat and empty landscape. A curved hallway allows the inhabitants to retreat into shadows and into the introverted private rooms.
Architects: Valerio Olgiati
Location: Alentejo, 3400, Portugal
Collaborators: Patricia Da Silva (project manager office Olgiati), Daisuke Kokufuda, Liviu Vasiu
General Contractor: Matriz Sociedade de Construções Lda.
Photographs: Archive Olgiati