Tuesday, July 08, 2014


One of the most famous beach houses in Portugal is the so-called Casa Branca (White House) in a small village not far from Lisbon. Architect Raul Lino designed it in 1920 to be his Summer home. Lino had to choose between building within the village perimeter to gain access to electricity and running water, or to forego these modern comforts and place the house on a cliff with an incredible ocean view. For him, the choice was obvious.
Raul Lino became famous for synthesizing the vernacular traditions that go back to Roman times to create the archetypal Portuguese house. The Casa Branca is based on this archetype, but Lino made two surprising choices. Instead of using the traditional green color for the windows, he chose bright orange.
Then, he painted the orange roof tiles white, thus accentuating the orange of the windows. Orange is the complementary of blue and so the windows of Casa Branca became the complement of the sea. It’s as if, to be beautiful, the sea needs someone admiring it from the window.

I have recently visited Lino's Summer house within the scope of a conference. It's a simple two-storey house perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. Nowadays it's property of one of his descendants. Once we step indoors,  the scenery is the blue ocean and nothing else but the blue ocean, only. Simply beautiful!
Some people are of the opinion that Lino should have looked forward instead of backwards, adopting the modernism of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. 
I personally think that by embracing the past, he contributed to preserve the sense of place that we feel when we see a Portuguese house.
Thank you!

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