Slabs of concrete, lashings of pale timber and vast expanses of glass come together to form an ultra-modern and minimalist holiday house in Cascais, Portugal’s upmarket summer playground on the Atlantic Coast, writes Joanna Tovia. Photography by Ricardo Oliveira Alves.
Cascais was once a sleepy fishing village but its picturesque position on the coast just 30km from Lisbon mean it has evolved into a vacation haven for tourists from abroad and wealthy Portugese holidaymakers. Building your own holiday house with a golf course and the ocean is on your doorstep is the ultimate dream, of course, and why not design it with entertaining in mind.
After purchasing a 2290 square-metre slice of sloping land, the owners turned to Guedes Cruz Arquitectos to come up with a design that would allow them to unwind as a family or to live comfortably alongside a house full of guests without feeling overcrowded – the luxurious home has six bedrooms, each with its own ensuite, and several separate living areas.
From the front, the home presents largely as a two-storey glass box, with the in-ground pool appearing as though it is part of the interior. In fact, the ground-floor pool slots neatly between a two storey wall of glass at one end and solid bedroom wing at the other. Once inside, the views open up onto the pool, tree-dotted golf course and ocean beyond, its glass walls helping the contemporary lines and industrial materials of the home fit in peacefully with its undulating green surrounds.
Looks can be deceiving, however. It’s not always tranquil living here. Its location on the Atlantic coast means it can be buffeted with strong winds and cooling sea breezes. With this in mind, the architects designed vast timber panels that can slide across to cocoon the pool and outdoor living and dining area into a cosy courtyard. Illumination above and below – from the in-ground pool and glass-bottomed pool overhead – creates a magical oasis as ideal for families seeking solitude or when friends are over and it’s time to party. Two enormous modular daybeds can be left as is for lounging outside in summer or split apart to provide multiple seating nooks for a crowd, while the outdoor dining table can seat at least 12.
During the day, when the panels are closed, the two-storey glass wall and open rooftop delivers ample light and tree views, but is protected from the elements, particularly during the cooler months.
The main entry is on the ground floor, via an elevated walkway from the street. This floor, sandwiched between the basement and first floor, houses the communal areas of the home – the living area that opens onto the patio and pool, a separate dining room and a functional, white and stainless-steel kitchen designed with entertaining in mind. Also on this level is a guest room with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, located just to the left of the front door for easy and level access.
In the basement are two more bedrooms, each with their own ensuites, along with a multi-car garage, laundry and additional living areas.
The first floor is where the home really shines for those lucky enough to be granted access. The master suite, complete with its own deck, spacious ensuite and dressing room, is but a few steps to the showstopping glass-bottomed pool suspended over the downstairs pool and patio.
Architects José Guedes Cruz, Marco Martínez Marinho, Cesar Marques are no strangers to dramatic design. Known for cutting-edge designs that dare to be different (think box-like residential complexes with glowing coloured roofs to bunker-like and monolithic family homes) but manage to strike that difficult balance between stark minimalism and liveability that makes a modern house feel like home.