A Portuguese Glass House Uses Surrounding Foliage as a Privacy Screen

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By Kate Reggev / Photos by João Morgado
A transparent hillside abode outside Porto swerves around existing trees and takes advantage of the lush canopy for privacy.

Inspired by the surrounding landscape of chestnut trees, rocky hillside, and bubbling stream, Portuguese architecture firm 3r Ernesto Pereira chose to blend into, and take advantage of, the local geography rather than fight against it at this sleek, modern home near the coastal city of Porto. At a cost of €100,000 (approximately $125,000) and measuring about 140 square meters, this stunning, wood-and-glass retreat took about four months to construct. 

Cloaked House by 3r Ernesto Pereira blends into its leafy hillside location.

Cloaked House by 3r Ernesto Pereira blends into its leafy hillside location.

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From the exterior, the residence is long and rectangular, with glazed walls that allow for views out into the woods beyond.  

A large porch projects from the main building.

A large porch projects from the main building.

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The existing foliage were carefully considered, with niches cut out in the home’s form to preserve extant trees, thus creating outdoor spaces that are surrounded on three sides by the interior of the home, akin to courtyards.

At night, the home glows like a glass jewel box.

At night, the home glows like a glass jewel box.

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Concrete floors and roof contrast with large expanses of glazing.

Concrete floors and roof contrast with large expanses of glazing.

The roof is the only solid element, but its neutral gray tone allow it to blend into the hillside as well.  

Some of the large planes of glass are sliding doors that open to the environment.

Some of the large planes of glass are sliding doors that open to the environment.

The roof is the only solid element in the residence.

The roof is the only solid element in the residence.

Bookmatched wood veneer cabinetry brings a warm, tactile feel to the interiors.

Bookmatched wood veneer cabinetry brings a warm, tactile feel to the interiors.

A neutral palette for furniture keeps the interior feeling light and sun-drenched.

A neutral palette for furniture keeps the interior feeling light and sun-drenched.

A custom kitchen with a cantilevered countertop mimics the way the house is perched on a hillside, seeming to defy gravity.

A custom kitchen with a cantilevered countertop mimics the way the house is perched on a hillside, seeming to defy gravity.

In summer, the dense leafiness of the trees engulfs the whole house, making it almost imperceptible while protecting the interior from the intense sun. In winter, the deciduous trees shed their leaves, allowing the sun to penetrate the home and warm up the interiors, which are slightly more visible behind the bare branches.

Light enters the home from all sides, even those which are closest to the hill.

Light enters the home from all sides, even those which are closest to the hill.

Whether indoors or outdoors, this house lets its residents live both in the forest and with the forest. 

The home has sliding doors with thick wood frames.

The home has sliding doors with thick wood frames.

Existing trees poke through the large patio.

Existing trees poke through the large patio.

The home is designed to maneuver around existing trees.

The home is designed to maneuver around existing trees.

A axonometric of the project shows its long, rectangular form with cut-outs to preserve existing trees.

A axonometric of the project shows its long, rectangular form with cut-outs to preserve existing trees.

The Cloaked House plan

The Cloaked House plan


Project Credits: 

Architecture: 3r Ernesto Pereira
Builder/General Contractor: 3r Ernesto Pereira
Structural, Civil, & Sound Engineer: Engitek