Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village

Add to
Like
Comment
Share
By Michele Koh Morollo
Three former animal sheds take on new life as minimalist retreats in the tiny, rural village of Ferraria de São João in Portugal.

Up in the hills of central Portugal's Coimbra is a collection of 20 little scattered villages with houses that are constructed with a rust-colored, metaphoric rock called "schist."

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 1 of 15 -

Full of old-world charm, these quaint settlements, known collectively as "the schist villages," cling to the mountainside and are surrounded by biking trails and beautiful natural landscapes.

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 2 of 15 -


Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 3 of 15 -

A handful of these schist villages have fallen to ruin due to neglect, but 16 years ago, the Portuguese government decided to reinvigorate the area by turning it into an ecotourism complex. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 4 of 15 -

In the village of Ferraria de São João, avid mountain biker and environmentally-conscious entrepreneur Pedro Pedrosa saw the opportunity to remodel three abandoned animal sheds, turning them into minimalist, eco-friendly houses with south-facing windows that maximize sunlight exposure. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 5 of 15 -

He named the restored properties Vale do Ninho Nature Houses and rents out the three cabins—Nightjar Studio, Woodpecker Studio, and Cuckoo Villa—as self-catering holiday accommodations. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 6 of 15 -

Nightjar is a studio unit with a bathroom, mezzanine area, and ground-level sofa bed that sleeps up to three guests. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 7 of 15 -

Woodpecker, which has one queen bed, three single beds, and a bathroom, comfortably accommodates five guests. Cuckoo, which has two bathrooms, one bedroom with a balcony, and two single beds in the living area, can fit up to four people. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 8 of 15 -

Architect Pedro Brígida, who designed the houses, worked with builders Construções Vítor & Américo, Lda. and structural engineering company Verde Mais. Interiors are fitted out with natural wood and cork. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 9 of 15 -

Clean-lined and simple, the houses are sustainably built and respectful of the natural environment. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 10 of 15 -

The original limestone, schist, and quartzite exterior walls were maintained, while a new extension of clay and lime plaster was added to the existing structures. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 11 of 15 -

The houses are all equipped with solar panels and under-floor hydraulic heating. They also each collect their own rainwater. 

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 12 of 15 -
Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 13 of 15 -
Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 14 of 15 -

A natural swimming pool on the property doubles as a year-round aquatic ecosystem.   

Stay in a Tiny, Eco-Friendly House in a Portuguese Schist Village - Photo 15 of 15 -

Get a Daily Dose of Design

Sign up for the Dwell Daily Newsletter and never miss our new features, photos, home tours, stories, and more.