Work in Progress
A nine-house development restores a modernist essence to an emblematic plot in Estoril
An epicentre of Estoril’s glamorous life for decades, the plot revamped by Atelier Nunes da Silva has welcomed the European nobility for glitzy parties on its expansive gardens and private mass in its small chapel.
Rendered characterless by successive works which disrespected its ’40s avant-garde aesthetic, the main building has now given way to a nine-house development enveloped in lush vegetation, in accordance with the property's original modernist identity.
Concrete and organic
Rendered in sandy plaster, the houses exude an earthy quality not only in their colour scheme but also in their texture.
The development is, in every sense, a product of a close interaction between concrete and organic, exterior and interior, thickness and lightness: the exteriors' cladding softens a near-brutalist rigour, garden terraces and floor-to-ceiling glass windows cut through the building's boxy volumes, waterfalls and reflective pools mirror the surrounding vegetation.
Organised in five units, the houses are all different – not only for the sake of personalisation, but also to maximise privacy and optimise ocean views, taking into account the plot's 20-metre grade difference from one end to the other. Catering to the game of shades in the garden where they are seemingly rooted, the buildings balance a monochromatic feel with subtle shade differences within a neutral palette.
The browns and beiges also permeate the interiors, as does a minimalist approach to shapes and volumes, and the same prominence given to texture – sandy bathroom surfaces, aged wooden planks, unpolished kitchen counters, brushed-brass hardware.
A Mediterranean Garden
Eschewing walls, the garden plays with rocks as much as with vegetation to define an intuitive spatial narrative within and between the houses, through shared and private passageways and multiple courtyards.
Besides shaping patterns of movement, the garden sculpts green layers over the concrete, and imbues a Mediterranean aesthetic throughout, with cypress and olive trees rising tall over smaller local plants and bushes. On the property's far end, the small chapel once attended by deposed kings, princes and counts has been carefully restored.
To further enhance the garden's tranquillity, a tunnel leading to an subterranean car park were devised to avoid cars invading the peace; yet the garden almost falls off into the underground through strategically placed skylights, so that the short drive isn't deprived of the sunlight and vivid green above.
A fifteen-minute walk away, the sea peeks out from most windows and terraces, framed by the lush foliage.