Designed by João Marques Franco, nature takes care of the houses in the treetops of northern Portugal


João Marques Franco designed the “houses by the treetops” in the north of Portugal in order to be able to privilege the connection with nature and life in the open air. The minimalist houses, surrounded by tall trees and dense vegetation, were designed in these special places in such a way that architecture never competes or obstructs nature.

This house was designed for Graça Pires, painter, and Emanuel Pio, art history teacher. The architect says that he attributed the owners a fundamental role, since with his spirit and that amazing place they had to get the house out of his way.

The single storey house is located on a sloping point on the ferry bridge and is positioned as close as possible to the centenary oaks and chestnut trees, but without touching them. Access to the house is via the top of the slope, due to the steep slope, the level of the residents’ eyes matches the level of the treetops, hence the name of the project.

The program is organized around a rectangular floor plan in order to be connected to nature around you. The architect limited the use of solid walls, using as much transparency as possible for the natural landscape to invade the house. Concret columns provide the necessary structural stability while the glass panels surround the elevations. Once these panels are open, the interior extends and merges with the large balconies.

The villa has open and fluid interiors, with large units of furniture. In the center of the floor plan is the bathroom, surrounded by solid walls.

The color palette of both the outside and the inside is dominated by neutral grays. This was a combined strategy to allow the changing tones of the surrounding foliage to be at the center of attention. The decoration is made by fruits and vegetables of the season that give color to the house.

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