A famous beach house


One of the most famous beach houses in Portugal is Casa Branca (white house) in the village of Azenhas do Mar. 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 is 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.

The Portuguese house

Raul Lino is a Portuguese architect who was influential in the first half of the 20th century. In an era shattered by two World Wars and the Great Depression, Lino craved the stability and permanence that he associated with tradition. He codified this tradition, inherited from the Romans and adapted throughout the centuries, creating the archetypal Portuguese house. Using stone, brick, and terracotta roof tiles, he designed homes that infused the vernacular architecture with proportion and elegance. Some felt that Lino should have looked forward instead of backwards, adopting the modernism of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. But, by embracing the past, he helped preserve the sense of place that we feel when we see a Portuguese house.

In 1912, Raul Lino built a private residence for his family, the “Casa do Cipreste” in Sintra. It is perched on a hill, overlooking the Sintra Palace. Thanks to the blog of Rui Morais de Sousa, a virtuoso of large-format photography, we can visit this graceful home with just the click of a mouse (here). What a privilege!