House in Ourém by Filipe Saraiva


Filipe Saraiva


João Morgado




Ourém, Portugal


The house’s beauty resides in it’s simple and regular geometry, resulting in an almost monolith volume. Complementing the beauty of its simplistic form, inspired by a child’s drawing of a house, is the surrounding exterior environment. In spite of the exterior landscape not actually being a part of the design, the way it is framed and presented to the interior space, as if it were a painting, was meticulously designed by the architect for his family. It is a home thought to be holistically lived, where function and balance are the main themes of the project. The interior space, natural light and relation to surrounding landscape provide a permanent pleasure of daily living.
The surrounding landscape, made up of a vast prairie and punctuated by olive trees, has a privileged view to Castle of Ourem and its medieval villa.

The materialization of the house starts by way of integrating the metric design of 3 x 3.5m prefabricated panels of black concrete. These composite concrete panels, with integrated insulation, are supported by a metallic substructure. The buildings construction system and the use of low maintenance materials, result in an innovative design that reduces the houses carbon footprint. These concrete panels were combined with materials such as steel and wood in a clear allusion to nature.
The houses volume derives from the panels geometry, stretching to its exterior area, culminating in its most craved view. This exterior space is protected by an exterior wooden structure, designed following bioclimatic principles and thus guaranteeing a franc entry of natural light in the interior space and simultaneously allowing perfect shade on hot summer days. The control over natural lighting was achieved through the rigorous design of every single element that is part of the wooden structure, complemented by the careful analysis of local solar geometry. Ultimately this study allows a significant reduction of energetic resources needed for interior climate control.

This exterior space is filled with urban furniture especially designed by the architect, utilizing materials, biological in origin, such as cork, iron and wood, that result in perfect harmony with the houses building materials. The furniture is instrumental in offering a pleasant and comforting contemplation of the exterior view. This view is made up by the Castle’s massive presence and a landscape populated by prefabricated elements. The access to the exterior landscape is through concrete platforms, resembling Lilly pads, that sprout from the lake, rigorously positioned in relation to the flux and dynamic of the space. These “Lilly pads” are considered a sculpture that simultaneously designs and structures space, resulting in a clear interior/exterior connection between the house and nature. The landscaping combines the four elements of nature, Water – the lake -, Earth – the garden – , Fire –the fire pit – and Air – the surrounding environment.
The house and its ambience result in the combination of different, thought out and designed approaches tailored the place, from its form, to its furniture and even landscaping, resulting in a perfect symbiosis.

Text provided by architect

THE TREE MAG – The Fruits of Ideas