A house in the Ground - Casa na Terra - is a contemporary interpretation of what could have once been humankind's most primitive natural home: the cave.
Originally intended to be a private residence, it soon became a weekend getaway, offered for rent by Silent Living. This project is another example of the architectural skills of Aires Mateus, located in Portugal's Alentejo region, in the small town of Monsaraz.
One may fail to spot the building upon arrival. At first glance, there is no evidence of a physical, welcoming facade. A narrow crack in the ground marking the entrance is the only clue. This path leads to the main door, hidden deep within the ground. Soon afterward, you realize that you are inside an underground home, which at its end faces a picturesque meadow and a lake.
The layout of the house is pragmatic, divided into two distinct zones – the private and the communal. The living and dining rooms constitute a major part of the social space (with the wooden dining table integrated into the kitchen sink cabinet). Only these two unique rooms have exceptional window openings - large, full-height sliding doors, providing visitors with an undisturbed view of the surrounding environment. What complements it all is perhaps the most visually compelling element of the house, the canopy with a circular skylight. It conceals the common areas as well as covers the outdoor patio.
The private part of the building comprises three standard suites (one bedroom with a private bathroom), each with a specially designed circular patio clad in white glazed tiles that let in the sun and add a subtle brightness to the rooms. Additionally, each of these carefully constructed patios has three windows that can be easily opened and serve as links between the bedroom and the bathroom or lead to social areas such as the kitchen or living room. This feature adds a playful rhythm to the flow of communication in the home.
Casa na Terra is a manifesto itself. It follows clear, down-to-earth principles. Pure functionality - no decoration. Its monochromatic color scheme is dominated by the grey tones of the walls, the concrete, and the furniture finishes. The only exception here is the entrance hall, made of thick birch wood panels, which adds a sense of warmth and natural charm to the overall experience.
The interior is stripped of all distracting elements, leaving only the essence. And this is what allows one to focus on the most crucial aspect of being there - the surrounding natural environment in all its glory.