Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park


As luck (and a mutual pal) would have it, a single of the to start with people today I met when I moved to Lisbon a small extra than five several years back was the architect Tiago Rebelo de Andrade. He instructed me then about a project he had labored on with his architect father, Luís Rebelo de Andrade, that was revolutionary at the time. The two experienced dreamed up Portugal’s to start with tree house resort project, in the Pedras Salgadas thermal park in the much north of the place.

Promptly, I needed to stop by the put. But then a complete great deal of other items took place. I retained jetting off close to the environment (at the very least till most people stopped going anyplace) and obtaining deeper into other components of Portugal. it took me 5 a long time to pay a visit to the location that I had set on my will have to-go to listing within months of arriving in this region.

It was worth the wait.

The place is an alluring mix of character, change-of-the-century grandeur, and modern day, nature-centered architecture. It obtained its start out as a thermal wellness resort in the 19th century, when persons drank the frivolously effervescent water from the mineral springs as a overcome for a slew of illnesses. (When I asked in the h2o museum if Agua das Pedras, now greatly offered close to the country—the Pellegrino of Portugal—was nonetheless thought to do all that, my dry-witted Portuguese travel companion claimed, “I suppose so, but now we just consider medicine.”)

While there is nevertheless an aged-university thermal spa (reinvented by pointed out architect Siza Vieira) on the premises, most of the wellness now takes the variety of forest bathing. The assets handles some 20 hectares, a dense ecosystem with 27 species of trees—from big sequoias to Chinese firs—red squirrels, white storks, grey herons, noticed woodpeckers and, often, snowy egrets.

That’s why “we thought it was critical to respect the landscape,” claims Luís, of their entry into the design competitors that was held when the assets was obtained by Unicer (now the Super Bock Group, a beverage organization) in the early 2000s. The owners’ plan was to do the job with two of the old inns that nevertheless existed on the home. The architects proposed demolishing a person of them, except for the floor ground, which now is made up of significantly of the property’s infrastructure, and building a tiny mountain on best to conceal it.

They meant to refurbish the other outdated lodge, but first they proposed some new bungalows—eco homes, as they phone them—that could be developed speedily and rented to company as the larger sized renovations took position. The house owners liked this plan, specifically the aspect about building income additional immediately, but also the aspect about how the houses’ modular structure will allow the flooring strategies to be configured in a different way so that no trees experienced to be reduce down to make area for them. (That other refurbishment by no means took place, whilst they did do a instead snazzy career with the old on line casino.)

With that settled, the architects pushed further. “One day in a conference with the administration, I mentioned, ‘You’re constantly talking about people and environmentally friendly tourism,’” remembers Luís. “‘’Who wished they experienced a tree property when they had been youthful?’ All but one hand went up.”

Even now, it took some convincing, due to the fact there was absolutely nothing like it at the time. But that was the point. “We preferred one thing diverse from what people today had been made use of to,” suggests Luís. Still, “it was sophisticated to persuade the consumer,” recalls Tiago. “We did a large amount of presentations and films.” At some point the architects took their shopper to the innovative Tree Hotel in Sweden.

The two tree houses—or “snake houses,” as Luís prefers to phone them, since they really don’t really rest on tree branches (too fragile) but are on stilts, and for the reason that their elongated form, with a widening on one particular finish, is vaguely cobra-like—live incredibly effectively. They are very compact, as they had been fabricated off-site and introduced in on flatbed vans, but arranged efficiently.

Each one particular has a comfortable bed in entrance of and beneath large home windows on to the forest. There is also a small desk, a couch, and a compact but functional closet and rest room with a shower. It’s every thing you will need, at minimum for a couple of days. And since they’re reaches by flat bridges from the top of that artificial mountain, they are available for all. (A member of the architects’ household is disabled, so they imagine about these kinds of points.)

Apparently the advertising department agreed with me that the “snake house” name may well be off-putting, even while Luís is sticking to it—“only pigeons need to be worried of snakes,” he insists. All people else promotes them as tree houses.

Together with Tiago, when he place them “all more than the Internet” and pitched them to publications like Dezeen, Wallpaper, ArchDaily and Vacation + Leisure, which gave Pedras Salgadas a structure award for most effective lodge in 2014. Shortly Portuguese emigrants had been coming again to see this awesome challenge that experienced taken flight in their homeland. Then style and design fans from close to the earth adopted. Now the tree houses are booked out a few months in advance, through substantial season.

They place the village of Pedras Salgadas back on the map. “The individuals there really like my father,” claims Tiago, since their job drew folks from much absent to see their architecture, which gave increase to a amount of tourism-similar corporations in the as soon as-dying village. They’ve demonstrated that sustainability is about far much more than recycled elements and the preservation of trees. It is sustaining a neighborhood.

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