June 19, 2024


sights and trips

Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park

As luck (and a mutual pal) would have it, a person of the initially people today I satisfied when I moved to Lisbon a very little far more than 5 yrs back was the architect Tiago Rebelo de Andrade. He instructed me then about a venture he experienced worked on with his architect father, Luís Rebelo de Andrade, that was groundbreaking at the time. The two experienced dreamed up Portugal’s to start with tree property resort undertaking, in the Pedras Salgadas thermal park in the much north of the nation.

Quickly, I preferred to check out the location. But then a complete great deal of other points happened. I kept jetting off all over the planet (at the very least until eventually every person stopped going everywhere) and having deeper into other elements of Portugal. it took me five yrs to take a look at the spot that I had place on my ought to-go to record within months of arriving in this region.

It was truly worth the wait around.

The area is an alluring blend of character, turn-of-the-century grandeur, and modern, mother nature-targeted architecture. It acquired its commence as a thermal wellness vacation resort in the 19th century, when persons drank the flippantly effervescent water from the mineral springs as a overcome for a slew of conditions. (When I asked in the h2o museum if Agua das Pedras, now extensively marketed all around the country—the Pellegrino of Portugal—was nonetheless thought to do all that, my dry-witted Portuguese travel companion explained, “I suppose so, but now we just get medicine.”)

Despite the fact that there is continue to an aged-school thermal spa (reinvented by pointed out architect Siza Vieira) on the premises, most of the wellness now normally takes the form of forest bathing. The home handles some 20 hectares, a dense ecosystem with 27 species of trees—from huge sequoias to Chinese firs—red squirrels, white storks, gray herons, spotted woodpeckers and, in some cases, snowy egrets.

Which is why “we believed it was critical to regard the landscape,” states Luís, of their entry into the style competition that was held when the residence was acquired by Unicer (now the Super Bock Team, a beverage organization) in the early 2000s. The owners’ thought was to work with two of the outdated lodges that even now existed on the house. The architects proposed demolishing a single of them, apart from for the floor ground, which now is made up of a great deal of the property’s infrastructure, and building a tiny mountain on top to conceal it.

They intended to refurbish the other previous hotel, but initially they proposed some new bungalows—eco properties, as they contact them—that could be designed quickly and rented to guests as the greater renovations took area. The proprietors liked this notion, especially the portion about creating income far more immediately, but also the element about how the houses’ modular style and design will allow the ground designs to be configured differently so that no trees had to be slice down to make place for them. (That other refurbishment never transpired, while they did do a relatively snazzy position with the aged casino.)

With that settled, the architects pushed further more. “One day in a assembly with the administration, I reported, ‘You’re usually talking about households and inexperienced tourism,’” remembers Luís. “‘’Who wished they experienced a tree home when they had been young?’ All but one particular hand went up.”

Still, it took some convincing, simply because there was unquestionably practically nothing like it at the time. But that was the position. “We required one thing diverse from what persons were being utilised to,” says Luís. Nonetheless, “it was complex to persuade the client,” recollects Tiago. “We did a ton of displays and video clips.” Eventually the architects took their client to the innovative Tree Resort in Sweden.

The two tree houses—or “snake residences,” as Luís prefers to get in touch with them, due to the fact they do not essentially relaxation on tree branches (way too fragile) but are on stilts, and for the reason that their elongated condition, with a widening on just one finish, is vaguely cobra-like—live remarkably nicely. They are pretty compact, as they have been fabricated off-web site and brought in on flatbed vehicles, but arranged effectively.

Every single one has a comfy bed in entrance of and beneath massive windows on to the forest. There is also a tiny desk, a sofa, and a compact but useful closet and lavatory with a shower. It’s every thing you have to have, at least for a several times. And for the reason that they’re reaches by flat bridges from the leading of that artificial mountain, they’re available for all. (A member of the architects’ loved ones is disabled, so they assume about these kinds of things.)

Apparently the promoting division agreed with me that the “snake house” title may well be off-placing, even however Luís is sticking to it—“only pigeons should be fearful of snakes,” he insists. Anyone else encourages them as tree houses.

Together with Tiago, when he put them “all about the Internet” and pitched them to publications like Dezeen, Wallpaper, ArchDaily and Travel + Leisure, which gave Pedras Salgadas a design and style award for most effective resort in 2014. Shortly Portuguese emigrants ended up coming again to see this cool venture that experienced taken flight in their homeland. Then style enthusiasts from around the world adopted. Now the tree houses are booked out 3 months in progress, through significant period.

They put the village of Pedras Salgadas back on the map. “The people today there love my father,” says Tiago, mainly because their job drew people from significantly absent to see their architecture, which gave rise to a variety of tourism-relevant corporations in the after-dying village. They’ve demonstrated that sustainability is about much more than recycled resources and the preservation of trees. It is sustaining a local community.