Villa Escarpa by Mario Martins

Villa Escarpa by Mario Martins

Location: Luz, Portugal
Photo courtesy: FG+SG

Villa Escarpa is located near the village of Praia da Luz, in the district of Lagos, Algarve, in the South of Portugal.


A condition of the planning permission was that the new house be constructed in the space occupied by a previous building. This had little architectural or technical merit, but was located in an exceptional position on an escarpment overlooking the Algarve coastline and village of Praia da Luz.


The footprint was therefore predetermined; on a very steep slope, and exposed to the prevailing winds. Paradoxically, it is these constraints and difficulties that underpin the conceptional basis of the project.


In an architectural language, pure and contemporary, we created sheltered terraces and courtyards for outside living. These are cut from the horizontal volume which is white and highly transparent. This volume gently sits upon an exposed concrete support giving the appearance of the house floating above the landscape. The touch on the environment, which we want to preserve, is minimized and resolves the difficult balance of the building with its physical support, . This ensures a desirable visual lightness.


The house merges with a long water surface which dissects the wide living and kitchen spaces. These spaces are complimented by terraces protected from the wind, but open to the sun and impressive views. This is the social area of the house; open and fluid.


Four bedrooms are located in a private area with access from a corridor that runs alongside a central courtyard. In this private courtyard the natural light is filtered, creating an intimate and desirable space.


The lower area provides garaging and technical support. The roof terrace accentuates the visual lightness of the floating building in its environment.

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