A retreat in Sintra embodies tradition with flair
A half-hour drive north from Lisbon, this property designed by Atelier Nunes da Silva takes inspiration from Portuguese vernacular architecture to create a sophisticated retreat in the misty mountains of Sintra.
From its secluded location, the estate offers a compelling view over the region, from the fairy-tale Palácio da Pena upon the crest of a hill to the contours of the rugged coast in the distance – on a clear, sunny day, an attentive eye can spot the Berlengas Archipelago set against the ocean.
From the gate, the 400 olive trees – brought from the owner's weekend property in the Alentejo – lining the path conceal the large villa until the very last minute, reinforcing the sense of privacy and evoking a sense of awe when on reaching the gravel patio. While the primary entrance faces the rolling hills – as well as manicured gardens, cypress trees and stone-walled patios – the L-shaped building embraces the pool area on the ocean side.
The Portuguese aesthetic of whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs gains monumentality by means of imposing volumes and large areas, with echoes of Neoclassical architecture persisting in the expansive stonework fashioned from lioz, a Portuguese limestone also known as royal stone and an essential element of the Portuguese material palette.
Dominated by warm whites and beiges, the colour palette is jazzed up by light-blue iron fences, lamps and awnings.
The interior is flooded with abundant natural light from rectangular windows and rounded skylights.
A few of the house's iconic features – including the stone arch above the main staircase and the eighteenth-century tile panel on the kitchen wall – were sourced from ruins and antique shops and meticulously integrated into the structure.
The use of traditional methods, custom-design elements and local materials on both interiors and exteriors is a staple of the project, from the loggia's vaulted arches carved from solid stone to the kitchen's built-in light-blue furniture and wooden ceilings.
Organised along a north-south axis, the main living areas open onto the loggia, while the private quarters connect to the terrace through a small courtyard and a portico. Surrounding a large emerald-green pool, an arrangement of patches of lawn, terracotta tiles and traditional cobblestone frame the sweeping ocean views.