top of page

Casa da Volta


The house is located in the Southwest of Alentejo, deep in the Grândola hills. The gently undulating topography contrasts with the harsh dryness of the landscape and its bare vegetation of cork and holm oaks with sparse bushes creeping from the calcareous soil.


Given its remoteness and isolation, the house echoes the tradition of the Portuguese “alcáçova”, —or qasbah, following its Arab etymology—, which functioned as a defensive citadel, or compound, with its constructions built within and protected by a high-walled perimeter. Poetically, it summons the Heideggerian notion of “bounded space”, of the human need to define a limit in the vastness of the landscape. In fact, this typology of a fortified farm is the dominant form of occupation across the Maghreb and the Mediterranean, from Roman antiquity and Arab settlements, to Fernand Pouillon’s and Le Corbusier’s excursus in Argel.

由於房屋的偏僻和隔離,它沿襲了葡萄牙“alcáçova”(或阿拉伯人的qasbah)的傳統,它起著防禦性城堡或大院的作用,其建築建在高牆內並受高牆保護。從詩意上講,它喚起了海德格爾“有界空間”的概念,即人類需要在廣闊的景觀中定義一個界限。實際上,這種防禦工事的類型是整個馬格里布和地中海地區的主要佔領形式,從古代羅馬人和阿拉伯人的定居點到Fernand Pouillon和Le Corbusier在阿爾熱爾的郊遊。

The house is devised as an imperviously walled rectangle, onto which a series of volumes are placed against its inner walls. The positioning of this walled yard in the landscape was actually constrained by a regulatory distancing from the property limits. As it sits across a valley line, it appears half sunk from Southeast corner, progressively revealing itself towards Northeast. Other than a corner gateway and the small entrance door, the exterior walls barely have openings. An exception is made to the West elevation as it opens up to a large panoramic veranda overlooking a small creek below and the vastness of the landscape.


Inside the courtyard, three rectangular volumes occupy the North, the East and the West elevations, comprising respectively the bedroom suites, the living room and kitchen and the garage and maid’s room, while the missing volume southwards is occupied by an orchard.


The common areas function in a classical sequence of unfolding rooms, from the kitchen to the living room and to the library, all of which are separated by symmetrical pocket doors. The dining area of the living room is divided by a large fireplace with a hanging metal chimney.


The ceiling is made of structural whitewashed wood beams and boarding with the white stuccoed walls and cement floors. Clad from the outside in a whitewashed stone masonry, the thick walls are capped by an elusive pan tile, suggestive of a pitched roof that in fact does not exist, and an equally calk painted wood cast concrete lintel. The roughness of these burnt lime wall surfaces summons a vernacular and quasi-archaic condition which is nonetheless dismissed by its sheer scale and abstraction.