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Villa Além, Valerio Olgiati’s Own Concrete Ark In Alentejo

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Villa Além
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In Portugal, ten kilometers from where the Atlantic Ocean breaks on the shores of Alentejo, Swiss architect Valerio Olgiati has grounded his own monumental concrete ark, ‘Villa Além’.

Atop a hill of red earth, amongst a forest of cork trees that the region is famed for, the five-meter-high walls of Olgiati’s second home fold outwards; as-if the petals of a flower opening to the sky. The home lies hidden within them; it is an introverted space, focused around a central pool and desert-style garden. It does not fit to the typology of urban, suburban, or country living; situating itself somewhere in between or beyond these categories. “It is a real retreat”, Olgiati explains. “I was looking for a term for this type of housing and have arrived at ‘landscape living’.” Simultaneously closed and open, the property is unique in its interaction with the surrounding landscape. In Portuguese, além means ‘beyond’, making ‘Villa Além’ a fitting name for a structure that attempts to transcend traditional concepts of housing. “Our home is far away from the next town”, Olgiati says. “It is disconnected in every respect. There is only the vast empty landscape around us. In ‘Villa Além’, a sense of both loneliness and independence arises.”

“It is disconnected in every respect. There is only the vast empty landscape around us.”
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All images © Archive Olgiati