Palafita House . Comporta . Portugal

At the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve boundary, there is a unique house. Here, in Comporta, where the view meets the pine forest and vast farmland of rice fields, the dunes pervade a little everywhere. This is a land of fishermen, with paradisiacal beaches, at the leisurely pace of the hot Alentejo.


From the fusion of two influences, a holiday atmosphere is born, which challenges you to taste the flavors of the sea, to set foot in the sand, to invite family and friends. Based on popular traditions, a contemporary space surfaces, framed in the landscape, merging popular and architectural knowledge.

On the one hand, a fishermen’s house, with all its experience toil, where one wants ephemeral materials and social and private areas well separated. On the other hand, the Alentejo house with all its sobriety, where the chimneys stand out and seem to draw attention to a culture based on gastronomy. And, joining the two forces, inspiration arises from the masterpiece of the stilt dock. The largest of the Iberian Peninsula and the support of the work at sea, which is presented in a precarious and labyrinthine network of passages buried in the mud of the marsh that connects to the river Sado.

It is the communion of all these materials, textures and aromas that make this environment so unique. Designed in two separate volumes, at different levels, the house is oriented to the southwest, allowing the gaze to rest on the rice paddies. To the east and to the west appear the wooden structures, the reed as a covering and the thatch of the roofs. And, in the north and south, the Alentejo whiteness predominates. The lime-treated walls are embraced by reeds that provide privacy.

And, the open span to the north, lets the luminosity invade the space. It is this uniform light that crosses the shaft that radiates from the zenithal aperture, an opening on the thatched roof, filtering the light. And when walking in barefooted from the beach, we can feel the microcement pavement that tells us a story and offers us multiple textures, with its sand tone, populated by small shells.


The interior and exterior merge, letting the surroundings come into the house. And outside, we let ourselves be embraced by the stilts, those irregular wooden poles called palafitas in Portuguese, the fishermen’s everyday landscape, that form a sculptural environment and with their awnings shelter us from the hot sun.

The dunes are formed offering different perspectives and the native species reign. We allow ourselves to be enwrapped by the movement that the space offers.

It is the dance of the vegetation and its seductive sound, the sand that flows, the water that moves around the pool and the awnings in the wind that lull us at the end of the day.