Villa Além In Alentejo, Portugal

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Jane Mullock
Jane Mullock
I'm Jane, a writer fascinated by houses. My stories are about the magic of homes and the people in them. Let's explore the secrets and joys houses hold, and discover the amazing stories behind every door. Come join me on this house-loving adventure!

Completed in 2014, Villa Alem is a modern complex designed by Valerio Olgiati and located in Alentejo, Portugal. The project is a part of a rural, hilly landscape that has no shortage of old cork oaks. Boasting a secluded garden as well as a contemporary residence, the Villa Alem project is surrounded by walls that flaunt heights of up to 18 feet in order to ensure shading.

The walls resemble petals that close and open up towards the sky, and they were made out of situ concrete, much like the rest of the residence.  The house features a single floor and includes a comfortable living room that overlooks a swimming pool. The residents enjoy access to a few introverted private rooms, which are accessible through a curved hallway. Minimalistic and contemporary, Villa Alem is a unique home that provides more than adequate living conditions despite being built in a relatively harsh environment.

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.

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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.
Project Year: 2014
Photographs: Archive Olgiati

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