Embracing Nature: The House of the Cork Oak


In the quaint parish of Figueiró – Amarante lies a remarkable architectural gem, nestled harmoniously amidst nature’s embrace. Aptly titled “The House of the Cork Oak,” this project by Skemba Studio celebrates the intrinsic connection between architecture and the environment, revolving around a century-old Cork Oak tree that stands as the centerpiece of the landscape.

Spanning approximately 730 square meters, the site presented a unique challenge and opportunity for the architects. With a narrow access road and neighboring constructions dating back several decades, the design needed to integrate seamlessly into its surroundings while showcasing the majestic presence of cork oak.

The Cork Oak House by Skemba studio
The Cork Oak House by Skemba studio. Photography by Ivo Tavares.

From the outset, Skemba Studio prioritized the preservation and enhancement of the natural landscape. The house subtly closes itself off from the street, with only the entrance volume hinting at its presence, while opening up to the south to embrace the panoramic views and lush garden space. The architectural composition delicately respects the setbacks and boundaries, ensuring a harmonious coexistence with the existing environment.

One of the defining features of the design is the integration of the Cork Oak into the architectural narrative. The upper volume, crafted from cork, extends outward towards the tree, creating a covered area that seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor living spaces. This extension serves as a social zone, inviting inhabitants to immerse themselves in the tranquil ambiance of the garden while basking in the shade of the majestic canopy above.

On the opposite side, the ground floor volume gracefully steps back, allowing for the creation of a small pool that complements the terrace and balcony of the bedrooms. This thoughtful arrangement not only maximizes the functionality of the outdoor space but also enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the design.

Internally, the house is designed with a focus on simplicity and functionality. The ground floor features a central volume housing the entrance hall, living room, kitchen, pantry, and bathroom, seamlessly connected to the upper floor via a staircase. The double-height space in the living room area fosters fluidity and communication between the various zones, promoting a sense of openness and connectivity throughout the home.

More than just a dwelling, “The House of the Cork Oak” embodies a philosophy of sustainable living and a symbiotic relationship with nature. Skemba Studio’s meticulous attention to detail and reverence for the environment have resulted in a residence that not only honors its surroundings but also provides a sanctuary for its inhabitants to connect with the natural world.

In this architectural masterpiece, the Cork Oak stands as a silent sentinel, a testament to the enduring bond between humanity and the environment. As residents step into this serene haven, they are invited to embark on a journey of tranquility, where the rhythm of life is dictated by the gentle sway of the branches overhead and the whisper of the wind through the leaves.

All images © by Ivo Tavares. Don’t hesitate to find other inspiring architecture projects from all over the world on WE AND THE COLOR.

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