Yoga House on a Cliff
Álvaro Guerra Jované
Imagine a space where you walk feeling immersed in nature, as if you were in a vast garden—a garden for practicing yoga. Vale de Moses, a space dedicated to yoga retreats, has a particular characteristic: it is immersed in the living nature of Serra da Estrela Park, a green, dynamic, immense space where it is challenging to envision contained architecture.
Serra da Estrela
We needed to design a shala and some complementary spaces, but we always gave equal importance to all of them because being in the middle of a forest elevated their value and granted them equal hierarchy. A bathroom, a shala, a kitchen, but a garden? What is the purpose of a garden amidst a forest?
According to Gilles Clèment:
"The enclosure protects. Within the enclosure, we find the best: what we consider most valuable, beautiful, useful, and conducive to balance."
That is how "a garden for practicing yoga" became the envelope and foundation, the place to design a yoga house. Each space, as well as each material, has been thoughtfully considered to remain empathetic to its "protected enclosure."
Imagine a building emerging from the ground, with stone walls that appear to have always been there. As you enter, you notice a frame that holds the landscape before your eyes, inviting you to sit and admire. Inside the building, the shadows cast by the sunset divide the hallway, extending it until it becomes what seems like an infinite staircase.
As you walk, you realize that the garden always accompanies you—warm, humid, shaded, but ever-present. If you look outside, you are accompanied by water and flowers, while the interior blends with the bathroom and kitchen, even when it detaches from the horizon. Water flows, campainha, sargaço, and malmequer grow. You can even sit there to observe, wait, or simply be.
Back in the hallway, the grand guiding staircase rises, taking you to a level where it feels like the garden continues to envelop you. There, in the center of everything, is the shala, not only intended to be a contained space but also to expand, to be a place of interaction, admiration, silence, and elevation.
The experience at Vale de Moisés is characterized by the physical and spiritual connection to Mother Earth, so we always kept in mind that we should complement and not hinder our connection with the surroundings. Each space has been designed to connect people with nature in different ways, creating atmospheres and settings that become iconic for each visitor.
Diagrams and Plans
Architectural Plan - Level 000
Architectural Plan - Level 100
Water Collection System
Energy Saving System