Roof Cut-Outs in This Portuguese Home Draw in Light and Air
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Roof Cut-Outs in This Portuguese Home Draw in Light and Air

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Set in the rolling plains of Portugal’s Alentejo region, a minimalist holiday home celebrates its Mediterranean landscape.

The Alentejo region in Southern Portugal features rolling meadows dotted with pine and olive trees; Cercal House resides in this pastoral setting, in the small town of Cercal do Alentejo. Designed by Lisbon–based studio Atelier Data, the 2,691-square-foot holiday home exhibits a Mediterranean style with plenty of outdoor spaces.

The site’s unique topography inspired the architects to search for the precise position, solar orientation, and massing that would allow the new house to be in conversation with its surroundings—as well as capture the best views. 

Cercal House is a minimalist, Mediterranean home that celebrates the Alentejo landscape.

Cercal House is a minimalist, Mediterranean home that celebrates the Alentejo landscape.

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Four square cut-outs on one side of the roof open the interiors up towards the sky.

Four square cut-outs on one side of the roof open the interiors up towards the sky.

Partially sunken into the landscape to reduce its impact on the landscape, the expansive Cercal House can comfortably accommodate 10 people. 

Partially sunken into the landscape to reduce its impact on the landscape, the expansive Cercal House can comfortably accommodate 10 people. 

Located next to the remains of an old building and embedded within a sloping terrain that’s intersected by a river, the house connects with its surroundings via an infinity pool, and a large patio that frames gorgeous horizontal views. 

Sunlight and fresh air enters through the four giant apertures.

Sunlight and fresh air enters through the four giant apertures.

The house was inspired by the topography of its site.

The house was inspired by the topography of its site.

The form of the house is a manipulation of the traditional gable-house archetype with the introduction of patios and light-enhancing, spatial strategies that brighten and expand the exterior and interior spaces. 

A wooden entrance door painted in "Alentejo blue" opens to welcome entrants onto a traditional, brick-paved patio—a feature typical of the region’s architecture.   

A wooden entrance door painted in "Alentejo blue" opens to welcome entrants onto a traditional, brick-paved patio—a feature typical of the region’s architecture.   

Open-air patios are located at all four corners of the house, and three bedrooms are set along three sides of the square.

Open-air patios are located at all four corners of the house, and three bedrooms are set along three sides of the square.

Between the interior and exterior spaces, thresholds are designed to further enhance the connectivity between the architecture and the land. 

Between the interior and exterior spaces, thresholds are designed to further enhance the connectivity between the architecture and the land. 

The house has an exposed roof structure that connects the interiors to the sky. At the heart of its squarish floor plan is an open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchen that lead out toward a large porch and an outdoor deck with a swimming pool. Sliding windows and barn-like shutters that disappear into the walls frame stunning views of the scenery. 

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The deck flows out to a large swimming pool.

The deck flows out to a large swimming pool.

The living area opens up to the deck for a fully immersive, indoor/outdoor experience.

The living area opens up to the deck for a fully immersive, indoor/outdoor experience.

When opened, the polished concrete floors inside continue out towards the deck and the infinity pool, which follow the contour lines of the landscape.

The long breakfast bar at the kitchen is ideal for big family feasts.

The long breakfast bar at the kitchen is ideal for big family feasts.

The dining area is an extension of the aluminum kitchen.

The dining area is an extension of the aluminum kitchen.

Harmonizing the rustic character of Alentejo’s rural dwellings with contemporary, minimalist elements, and drawing in views of both sky and  horizon, Cercal House is a home that makes the best of its rugged, pastoral context.  

The master bedroom opens out to one of the four patios.

The master bedroom opens out to one of the four patios.

One of the bedrooms has dorm-style beds, and the other two have ensuite bathrooms that can also be accessed from the main communal living space. 

One of the bedrooms has dorm-style beds, and the other two have ensuite bathrooms that can also be accessed from the main communal living space. 

The master bathroom has an outdoor shower.

The master bathroom has an outdoor shower.

Cercal House floor plan

Cercal House floor plan

Project Credits:

Architecture: Atelier Data / @atelierdata

Builder: João Bernardino, Construções Ecológicas

Structural engineering: NCREP 

Civil engineering: NCREP/DAJ 

 Photography: Richard John Seymour