Elevated huts perch like snakes in trees at Portuguese vintage spa




Architects Luís and Tiago Rebelo de Andrade wanted to “recreate the fantasy of tree houses” without building a house in a tree. Tasked to bring lodging to the Pedras Salgadas Park, a historic thermal spa in Northern Portugal, they wanted to get away from the “Swiss Family Robinson” paradigm and create something that resembled a wild animal in its native habitat, specifically a snake gliding between the trees.

Wanting to limit the noise and disturbance to the park, the father-son team designed a prefab structure, built 100 kilometers from the site, with curves and a flow unlike the more stereotypically orthogonal modular construction. Limited by the dimensions of a flatbed truck, the “Tree Snake Houses” are only 20 square meters, but fit all the utilities of a tiny house: a kitchenette, dining table, toilet and shower and a bedroom that feels pressed against the forest.

Built from local materials, mostly slate and wood, the suspended lodging hovers above the forest at the site of an old hotel. Instead of remodeling the old structure, the architects chose to demolish the top three stories and create the same number of rooms scattered throughout the park.

Besides the Tree Snake Houses, they also created modular “eco houses” that are put together like three LEGOs pieces in different configurations to work around the trees. They are built on a stilt foundation to protect the park’s heritage: the groundwater.

Pedro Salgadas was a popular spa town in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Like similar thermal resorts, visitors would stay for a couple of weeks or a month at a time and it had three hotels, a casino, a ballroom and the thermal baths. With the arrival of modern medicine, its popularity declined, but eventually it was rebuilt as a modern spa.

The Rebelo de Andrades’ structures have helped repopularize the location for overnight guests lured here by the unique architecture, forest-like setting and, at times, a sense of “saudade”.

“Saudade is a word that doesn’t exist in other languages,” explains Luis. “When you miss someone, saudade is what the fado sings a lot, about saudade”. One definition is a nostalgia for something that might have never happened, or will never happen again.

Two tree snake houses have been built with several more to come, but Luis claims they won’t be built anywhere else, “When you arrive to another site, to another place, to another land, to another client, you have different constraints, I wouldn’t like to make the same in other places you know, I think they are specific for this place”.

Pedras Salgadas Park:

Rebelo de Andrade

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41 Comments

  1. Hugo Sabato
    March 27, 2017
    Reply

    Nice tree houses bud!

  2. alegradance
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    It's a casket

  3. maxjosephwheeler
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    This vid isn't edited very well! It just keeps repeating the same thing. Cut it in half!!!

  4. adventuresinbelieving
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    so over engineered, and paltry space in relation to use of materials – such a waste. Nao intendo disso!

  5. Manuela Machado
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    Saudade does exist in English longing means saudade.

  6. Oie d'etudiant
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    Landscape respect makes for picturesque abodes.

  7. thecopydex1
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    It's so annoying how everyone in the comment sections of these videos are so negative and critical, as if they were architectural experts.

    Honestly if you think it's weird, it's probably just something new and different. Just stop typing negative comments and try learn something.

  8. auzio
    March 28, 2017
    Reply

    At 1:00 it says "treehouse#01" above the door. why not snake house?

  9. a. banks.
    March 29, 2017
    Reply

    "You never cut a tree"… I like him already… but the name, Snake House… makes me recoil, just a bit… Still.. . such a bueatiful area and the ltitle houses, have a very neat…. simplistic design.

  10. Timothy Keller Vandweller
    March 29, 2017
    Reply

    I wonder how it would do in an earthquake… you know?

  11. Hao Zhang
    March 30, 2017
    Reply

    @18:27, press "E" to sync

  12. Danny Schwab
    March 30, 2017
    Reply

    that's cool. ide like to live there. sweet. god bless.

  13. Cynric Edevane
    March 30, 2017
    Reply

    I like the idea of these spaces, but there are not enough windows. 2 smaller windows on the sides of the room would've been better. Also, there was a lot of wasted material and labor needed to elevate this building rather than building on the ground.

  14. Anya
    March 30, 2017
    Reply

    Kirsten, do you have a favourite home that you've visited?

  15. Pedro Torres
    March 30, 2017
    Reply

    This is near to the place where i live! 🙂

  16. alaskatraildancer
    March 30, 2017
    Reply

    In America we would first clearcut everything, put in lookalike houses and then plant sorry-looking little trees to make it look like we love Nature. Oh my!

  17. Mr Cruz
    March 31, 2017
    Reply

    Pretty cool 😀

  18. Ronald Forkner
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    Forest Tiny Houses…

  19. Robertas Ripinskas
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    More image stabilization please

  20. Rubin Henkel
    April 5, 2017
    Reply

    great as always 🙂 but you really need to work on the audio. its was very bad

  21. bookmarkthis
    April 12, 2017
    Reply

    Cool treehouses.

  22. sikantis61
    April 13, 2017
    Reply

    Love seeing those historical photos – nice touch!

  23. CuteBumbleBee4
    April 18, 2017
    Reply

    I would have made the bathroom a wet room and then have a small desk and computer where the shower was

  24. Chris Walls
    April 23, 2017
    Reply

    Beautiful . Love to live there. Not sure about the tree house tho . Sorry ,snake house he he he

  25. Mimi Mackintosh
    May 1, 2017
    Reply

    This guy seems like the type to get in a fight with someone for calling his snake house a "tree house". Like someone else said, the construction does look like a coffin. He needs to chillax.

  26. Rasputin
    July 12, 2017
    Reply

    Magnificent. Astounding. I want one.

  27. golohiagat
    August 4, 2017
    Reply

    Looks cool, but really, it's stupid.

  28. sctpc
    August 8, 2017
    Reply

    Id be interested to know how he put water, power and sewer in as he said he couldn't dig or it would kill the trees.

  29. Elias
    August 11, 2017
    Reply

    Drinking game: "not a tree house", "You know"
    Also it clearly says tree house on entrance.

  30. Angel Mireles
    August 12, 2017
    Reply

    "These are not tree houses." (We get it)

  31. Josepha Black
    August 14, 2017
    Reply

    Especially in 10:47 the houses remind me of an animal standing alertly and sniffing and listening to any sounds of possible predators! 🙂 All in all a very strong connotation to Princess Mononoke!

  32. maz
    August 17, 2017
    Reply

    you know

  33. smonkey001
    August 17, 2017
    Reply

    Well, if only it was built on top of a lake and needed go thought a heavy line of trees to get the lake view I guess it will make sense.

  34. MrBernzy
    August 19, 2017
    Reply

    In times of material scarcity and sustainability I think it wastes a lot of material for a small purpose.

  35. Anthony F
    September 28, 2017
    Reply

    What if you have a fire? The houses and the forest would all burn.

  36. sir_mittens
    October 2, 2017
    Reply

    says he get mad when people call it a treehouse while writing treehouse 001 above the door

  37. Nona Corriveau
    October 4, 2017
    Reply

    lost me at no animals…

  38. Gidgy Gold
    October 16, 2017
    Reply

    Interesting, the window with the trees is cool. But not cozy enough for my liking.

  39. irish K
    December 8, 2017
    Reply

    They're tree houses….

  40. Frank Winkhorst
    January 8, 2018
    Reply

    Come on, fellahs. Something that small, you need a murphy bed. or a futon. No, I'm not an architectural "expert." But I have a passing knowledge of the efficient use of space.

  41. Vitality Massage
    May 28, 2018
    Reply

    Dam it! Don't call it a fucking tree house!

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