The structure of Casa Em Campolide is articulated as a simple white box with a central courtyard. The traditional style of this home is seen often in warm climate areas of Europe: the white facade reflects sunlight and the courtyard encourages air flow, keeping the home cool while maintaining minimal energy output. It is clever of Aires Mateus to keep this architectural form in their contemporary design: it is a style that works with the surrounding dwellings and nods to historical architecture.
Where this home differs from tradition, however, is first observed in the window openings. Each window varies slightly in size and location—a very unusual design choice for most homes. But as we have come to expect from Aires Mateus’ work, the choice is not without reason. Casa Em Campolide’s window size and placement are correlated to the needs of the interior. Truly a case of form follows function! Oversized windows in the courtyard bring light and nature pouring into the interior, while smaller windows give just enough light and view to the stairwell and more private interior spaces. Aires Mateus’ utilisation of the clean white facade is the perfect canvas for this unique arrangement of windows: rather than looking awkward, the assortment of windows adds decor and interest to every side of the exterior.
Framed in a soft, light wood, the window trim gives the viewer of Casa Em Campolide a hint of what is to come on the inside. Wood is the main material in use here, an interesting choice given its contrast to the clean white facade. Aires Mateus have certainly taken a generous approach when it comes to the use of wood on the finishes: they use it as the flooring, ceiling, and wall panelling.
Upon entering the living room, one could easily be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of the wood materials. But once one’s eyes settle on the space we see the details that are so crucial to pulling off this design move. Beams along the ceiling run in the opposite direction of the wood underlayment, creating structural depth. The window frames are slightly inset, giving the same effect as the ceiling beams. All of the accents in the interior are black and therefore stand out dramatically against the lighter tone of the wood. Black metal makes up the kitchen backsplash and worktop, and hangs above the table in the form of pendant lights. It is used again as the primary colour in the furnishings: the dining chairs and living room set vary in material but not in colour.
The bathroom of Casa Em Campolide is covered in marble. The marble could be seen as clashing with the wood, but we prefer to think of it as another small stroke of genius by Aires Mateus. Marble, while opposite in materiality, brings together the two accent colours of the design—black and white. The marble bathroom stands out equally as much as the wood-clad living and bedrooms, but this time uniting the monochromatic details with the stone’s natural colour.
Lastly, one cannot overlook the importance of the windows in this home. The windows are crucial to pulling off this unique design. Just when the wood interior feels overwhelming, one turns towards the oversized window in the room and is refreshed by the green of the courtyard. Similarly, the black accents never feel too dark because they are flooded by natural light from the oversized windows. Aires Mateus Architects are truly an exemplary designers, and Casa Em Campolide is a project that we will continue to study as an example of unique minimalist design.