Baths Lake Site in Serra da Estrela is an honour mention competition entry by CRAFT architecture for ArkXsite in 2015. It is located in Sierra de la Estrella Portugal in a riverside setting. Its scale is medium with a surface of 1.258 sqm. Key material is stone. Review the 2 proposals for the same competition.

The location is majestic and spectacular! Characterised by heaped granite rocks spread over undulating slopes that border an artificial lake. It is in this context that the project is set: between the natural and the artificial, a landscape shaped by both erosion and human intervention. The building’s nature and its implementation are conceived as matching the existing environment. Just as the rocks, it is enigmatic and seems to have been formed from the surrounding elements.


The building will absorb elements of the topography of the site and of the geological conditions in order to transcribe, through its morphology and its materiality, the essence of the place. It will fit harmoniously into its surroundings. The Lake Baths project is defined by a system of granite blocks, stacked upon each other and set into the slope. Between water and sky, echoing the existing debris on the land, the project is a monolith that seems to have been carved by time. Seen from the lake, it is a singular reference point, embedded in the terrain. Seen from above, the project blends into the landscape by virtue of an expansive rooftop mirror of water that invites quiet contemplation.


Lake Baths is accessed by a grand staircase that leads from the existing footpath on the higher ground at the site. This staircase dissects the building and plunges the visitor through a roof of water to bring them to the heart of Lake Baths. From the lobby an outdoor pool extends into and merges with the lake, Lago Comprida.

The interior spaces incorporate large granite walls faced with bricks, these bring composure to the project and guide the visitor through the building. From the inside, rather than offering an entire view of the setting, the building provides the visitor with a selection of distinctive and expansive views of the exterior and of the Serra da Estrela natural park. The intention is to create a narrative journey for the visitor through a sequence of singular frames: The lakes, the rocks, the terrain. This ‘reading’ of the landscape aims to develop awareness of the unique beauty and diversity of the landscape.

The spatial awareness and experience is completed on one hand by the presence of patios that flood the project with light whilst opening the view to the sky and on the other hand by the ponds and pools that create a continuity with the water of the lake. Arriving at the lower part of the structure, guests may complete their journey by entering the waters of the lake which gently lap the granite steps. In descending the site from the higher ground down to the water, visitors are given a experience that links the skies and the water.

1316-JBC-PT-2015 — Posted in 2015 — Explore more projects on intervention and landscape — Climate: mediterranean and temperate — Coordinates: 40.359591, -7.627003 — Views: 5.247