Timeless house in Portugal
An hour’s drive south of Lisbon, in the region of Alentejo, famed for its vast golden plains, dotted here and there with clusters of olive and oak trees, is a guest house unlike any other: “Casa No Tempo”, in other words, “Timeless House”.
The owner, João Miguel Rodriguez, a pilot by trade, is a man of conviction. When not flying above the clouds over Europe, he devotes his time to his passion: using architecture to bring old-fashioned values into our modern existence. In this nature reserve close to the UNESCO world heritage site of Evora, he has converted the house owned by his family for generations into a jewel of authenticity, a subtle mix of tradition and modernity. João knows the house well. As a child, he spent a lot of time here with his grandfather, who wanted it to remain in the hands of the family, so that his descendants could enjoy it. Skilfully combining the building’s past with its future, João has managed to erase the marks of time while preserving traces of its history. To restore this 400-metre-square home, he called upon the services of Manuel Aires Mateus, a world-famous Portuguese architect and long-standing friend. The idea was to create a peaceful guest house untouched by time, anchored in local Portuguese traditions, yet benefiting from the latest technology.
João has always been impressed by the cultural wealth and authenticity of the countryside and its inhabitants who live off the fruits of their labour, in harmony with nature. He encourages
visitors to come and explore the natural treasures that the countryside has to offer. “When I was a child, supermarkets did not exist. Families from Lisbon came to spend a day in the country so that they could fill up their cars with regional produce, which they purchased from local farmers. Through this current project, I hope that people will come and reconnect with the considerable resources the countryside and its inhabitants have to offer.”
The vast grounds are dotted with cork oaks, grazing areas, unspoilt prairies, two lakes, five ponds and streams. A swimming pool now resides in one of the meadows. Although contemporary in design, it seems to be fit in quite naturally. “I wanted to create the impression of admiring the countryside and the house from a lake or a natural source of water. There are quite a few of them on the property and we could easily have converted one into a pool, but Manuel Aires Mateus had another idea in mind. He said: ‘Don’t worry, I’m busy working on something. I know exactly what you are looking for.’” The result is undeniably brilliant.
Living Divani “Chemise” sofa and armchairs designed by Piero Lissoni. Wooden furniture made to measure for the architectural practice Aires Mateus.