A Crisp, White Home in Portugal Soaks Up Sweeping Seaside Views

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By Melissa Dalton
Maximum privacy and expansive views define this single-level home on a hilly slope along the Algarve coast.

After thirty years of vacationing in the Algarve, a retired couple decided to transform their two-story home into one that would be easier to move around in. "Their previous holiday home spread over two floors and made it difficult to use with ongoing age," Core Architects said.

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Core Architects endeavored to make the house blend into the slope, with comfortable access to the garden.

Core Architects endeavored to make the house blend into the slope, with comfortable access to the garden.

A concrete skeleton covered in heat-efficient clay blocks addresses the high earthquake risk in southern Portugal and tightens up the envelope. Per the architects: "In our projects we only use thermal clay tiles with mortar-free butt jointing. These are produced in Portugal and are fast and easy to work with. Their thermal performance is more than twice as efficient than the traditional bricks that are conventionally used."

A concrete skeleton covered in heat-efficient clay blocks addresses the high earthquake risk in southern Portugal and tightens up the envelope. Per the architects: "In our projects we only use thermal clay tiles with mortar-free butt jointing. These are produced in Portugal and are fast and easy to work with. Their thermal performance is more than twice as efficient than the traditional bricks that are conventionally used."

"As passive house architects, we attach great importance to sustainability and the use of ecological building materials," Core Architects said. "This combination is not always linear to solve."

In order to build this project, called Villa GK, more sustainably, the architects oriented the house to optimize cross ventilation for natural cooling and installed a solar thermal system for water heating. "Portugal is the world's largest exporter of cork," the architects said, so they insulated the facade with cork boards and used cork caulking.

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The main living areas of the 2000-square-foot home flow into one another and take advantage of the sea views. The deep frame around the doors to the pool modulates sunlight and privacy. The couch is from B & B Italia.

The main living areas of the 2000-square-foot home flow into one another and take advantage of the sea views. The deep frame around the doors to the pool modulates sunlight and privacy. The couch is from B & B Italia.

The shiny finish on the custom kitchen cabinets syncs with the high-gloss flooring, yet both contrast with the clay plaster finish on the walls. Integrated appliances give the kitchen a sleek look. The cooktop and wall oven are by AEG, the dishwasher is from Bosch, and the fridge and freezer are by Liebherr.

The shiny finish on the custom kitchen cabinets syncs with the high-gloss flooring, yet both contrast with the clay plaster finish on the walls. Integrated appliances give the kitchen a sleek look. The cooktop and wall oven are by AEG, the dishwasher is from Bosch, and the fridge and freezer are by Liebherr.

Natural materials in the kitchen include a travertine-wrapped peninsula. Travertine also defines an alcove around the sink. A chunk of American walnut forms the counter overhang.

Natural materials in the kitchen include a travertine-wrapped peninsula. Travertine also defines an alcove around the sink. A chunk of American walnut forms the counter overhang.

A detail of the travertine wrap on the peninsula.

A detail of the travertine wrap on the peninsula.

In the bathroom, the clay plaster walls meld with high-gloss tile floors. A Bruma sink faucet descends dramatically from the ceiling.

In the bathroom, the clay plaster walls meld with high-gloss tile floors. A Bruma sink faucet descends dramatically from the ceiling.

Perforated Equitone shading boards on the home's street-facing facade provide visual interest and encourage privacy.

Perforated Equitone shading boards on the home's street-facing facade provide visual interest and encourage privacy.

A detail of the shadows cast by the Equitone panels.

A detail of the shadows cast by the Equitone panels.

A bespoke metal staircase leads up to a rooftop observation deck.

A bespoke metal staircase leads up to a rooftop observation deck.

A rooftop deck provides views of the beautiful Algarve coast.

A rooftop deck provides views of the beautiful Algarve coast.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record, Interior Design: Core Architects / @core_architects

Builder: Mestre Construtivo

Structural and Civil Engineer: Miguel Dias

Landscape Design: Cando Jardins

Cabinetry Installation: Sérgio Borralho

Photography: Alexander Bogorodskiy / @photoshootportugal