Project provided from ATELIER NINI ANDRADE SILVA


Push through the large wooden doors, and you’ll find yourself in the entrance lobby. Three megaliths (menhirs) dominate in the center, the walls evoke the imagery of a cromlech, and multiple long arcs of gently curving light intersect each other on the ceiling. A space that is from a different world greets the guests. Although the ceiling is not very high, nor the space very large, you can feel an extension of space through the expression of staggered forms. Climb up to the roof and step outside, and you will see the bright blue sky and a panorama of plains stretching away into the distance. Enjoying the sunset at the swimming pool and bar there is an exceptional experience.


The hotel is located in Évora, in the Alentejo region of southeastern Portugal. With six floors aboveground and one floor below, the total floor area comprises 3330 square meters including the exterior terrace. There is a multi-purpose hall in the basement, with the lobby and a restaurant/bar on the ground floor, a total of 48 guest room on the second to fourth floors, a restaurant/bar on the fifth floor, and a swimming pool, gym, and bar on the sixth floor, making this a full service hotel despite its modest size. This was a project to fully renovate an aging hotel that had been left to the client by their predecessors, and involved not only refurbishing the interior, but making structural changes such as extending floor space and adding a new level.


In 2013, Portugal was in the midst of the global financial crisis, making it difficult to secure a budget. It’s doubtful that many people will notice how, in order to supplement this shortcoming, many of the finishing touches and decorations that add a unique touch throughout are actually scraps and repurposed objects. To give just a few examples, all of the wood finishes including the headboards, counters, side tables, walls, and the entrance doors come from used plywood panels for concrete formwork, the stone basin on the first floor used to be a water trough for horses, the pierced wall lighting on the fifth-floor restaurant is made from scaffolding boards used in construction, and the abstract pieces hanging on the walls are made from untreated cork bark and the interior structures of rusted beds, and so on. However, rather than looking like refugees that cheapen and introduce a foreign element, they have returned with new lives to add interesting colors and tastes to the spaces.


Since space was limited, the initial plan was based on squares and straight lines that would accommodate furniture and facilities efficiently. However, every time we removed old walls on-site, we found new information that was not shown on the plans, and discovered plumbing and columns extending from the upper floors on a daily basis. These were completely different from the plans that we had been given, both in terms of size and positioning. They were everywhere, snaking through the ceilings, and were so large and complicated that it was difficult to get them to line them up on a flat surface. Absorbing these into the design became a major condition. This is when the motif of curves came into the picture. We tried taking these bits and pieces and connecting them naturally, without forcing, using curved lines. This resulted in a surprisingly efficient way to secure space, as well as a streamlined design. In addition, the curves provided a softer touch compared with squares and straight lines, and better matched the image of the area and the hotel.


The new design motif we came up with was stone. This was based on the megalithic monuments dating back to the Neolithic era in the rural area of Évora: the Cromlech of the Almendres (Cromeleque dos Almendres, 6000-3000 B.C.), the Menhir of the Almandres (Menhir de Almendres ,6000-5000 B.C.) and the Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro (Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, 4000-3000 B.C.). We introduced these relics of the earth throughout as distinctive characteristics for the hotel, to create a consistent design vocabulary. The curves borne out of efficiency also reflect the curves of the gently undulating earth unique to Altenjo, which can be seen on the road to Évora, while the arcs of light crossing on the ceiling reflect intersecting contrails against the blue sky.

If you visit, you are certain to be able to feel the soul unique to the location.













Although this project was executed by ATELIER NINI ANDRADE SILVA, Nini has granted us permission to introduce it on this website.

As the main architect, Nobuaki Tanaka was involved in the entire project from design to supervision during his time at her Atelier.

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