A Bright Red Island Residence Embraces a Linden Tree

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By Michele Koh Morollo
On the island of San Miguel in Portugal's Azores archipelago, a vibrant home wraps around a massive linden tree.

Designed by Portuguese architect Pedro Maurício Borges, Casa Quinta da Tília is 3,148-square-foot family residence that consists of two volumes unfolding in opposite directions. 

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A wide, open-air, stone-paved corridor connects two volumes.

A wide, open-air, stone-paved corridor connects two volumes.

The volume on the northeastern side of the plot is positioned parallel to the property’s stone wall border, while the volume to the southeast is bent at an angle, and set some distance away from the wall. 

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The two parts are connected by a wide, open-air, stone-paved corridor with a saltbox roof shelter.

A large linden tree in the courtyard

A large linden tree in the courtyard

Following a linear arrangement, the two volumes create a reverse Z-formation, with the large, leafy tree nestled in the corner where the two volumes meet.

A wide, open-air, stone-paved corridor with a saltbox roof shelter

A wide, open-air, stone-paved corridor with a saltbox roof shelter

The wooden framed living room, which is located in the southern volume, is fully glazed on two sides, and fitted with four generous skylight windows to flood the interiors with light.

The dining and kitchen areas

The dining and kitchen areas

On the eastern side, the living room opens out to the yard where the tree sits, and to the west, it looks out to coast.

The tree seems to lean into the highly transparent living room as though to become part of the space.

The tree seems to lean into the highly transparent living room as though to become part of the space.

The western windows of the living room look out to the coast.

The western windows of the living room look out to the coast.

The broad skylights not only draw in the wonderful Azores sunshine, but also frame the majestic, parasol-like crown of the linden tree. The highly transparent space almost seems to bring the tree into the house.

A simple, open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area feels connected with the outdoor courtyard.

A simple, open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area feels connected with the outdoor courtyard.

Four generous skylights flood the interiors with light.

Four generous skylights flood the interiors with light.

Fully-glazed walls and skylights flood the living space with light.

Fully-glazed walls and skylights flood the living space with light.

The walls and tin roof are painted the same color as the structure supporting the tin roof. This structure is made from local Japanese cedar wood – a tree used to forest the island in the early 20th century, that's now well integrated as part of the Azorean landscape.

The walls are painted the same color as the tin roof finishing, which is made from local Japanese cedar wood.

The walls are painted the same color as the tin roof finishing, which is made from local Japanese cedar wood.

A bathroom with red walls and ceilings

A bathroom with red walls and ceilings

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Project Credits:

Architecture: Pedro Maurício Borges

Structural engineering: José Maria Cymbron

Hydraulic facilities: José Maria Cymbron, Rodrigo Cymbro

Gas installations: António Manuel Brandão da Luz

Air Conditioning: Francisco Laia Gonçalves

Electrical and telecommunications installations, and fire safety: Marco Ávila