Overlooking the vast Alqueva Lake in Portugal, which is the largest artificial lake in Europe, sits a house hunkered into the pristine landscape.
Designed by architecture practice Aires Mateus, the house is dug into a hillside and concealed by a green roof, the only visible elements of the building’s presence are the cantilevered roof jutting out towards the lake and the white-painted circular light wells, but even these are only visible from above.
Accessed through a staircase that uncannily disappears into the ground, the house is comprised of three subterranean bedrooms that open up onto two circular patios, and two communal rooms, a living space and a kitchen, which converge onto a sheltered terrace overlooking the lake. Enclosed by the concave mass of the cantilevered roof structure, the terrace is a cathedral-like, domed space whose sculptural coherence and massive height is juxtaposed with the vastness of the unfolding landscape.
Featuring a circular skylight formed by an inverted dome, the “scooped out” volume of the terrace attests to the architects’ love for geometry and compositional precision. While the green roof integrates the house into the landscape, the exposed part of the concrete structure stands out against the grassy hillside with its board-formed texture reflecting the starkness of natural landscape.