Cabanas no Rio, Comporta, Portugal
The sanctuary of the Solo Traveller
In a time when seclusion is the greatest luxury, the project of well-known architects Aires Mateus and the visionary host João Rodrigues arrives right on time. The Lisbon-based architect Marta Lourenço writes about her experience at Cabanas no Rio, located in the Sado Estuary, near the fashionable seaside village of Comporta.
It’s amazing how so little can give one so much. I was not expecting that such aesthetic simplicity, absence and neutrality could be such a gift for me as a person, as an architect.
Coming to Cabanas no Rio is a journey from the moment of arrival. I couldn’t drive to the house, I had to leave the car near Casas na Areia and walk, as a sign that with my car, my fast paced life had to stay behind me.
There is nothing else around me but nature: I feel sand under my feet, the Sado River inundates my eyes. A mixture of dunes, muddy paths and rice fields completely surround me. It is only me, these two huts, and nature.
This space almost forces me to sit down and absorb everything it has to give. And so I did: I sat on the deck, with my feet balancing as freely as child would do, and for two and half hours, I learned the significance of silence. I learn about the things one can see only when slowed down.
These huts work as an element of nature: just raw materials, as if they were collected from the riverside. They are as flexible as a season could be. It’s February, and I am as comfortable here as I would be in August.
The doors open up the huts to the outside, yet also protecting me from it, if I wish so. I feel the seasons, the weather hot or cold, and the huts shield me, all by themselves. The closer to nature, the better.
This building of improved shapes and minimal resources provides a totally nature focused experience, based on absence and silence, far away from the chaotic city. The shower also facing nature, the raw touch of the wooden floor beneath my feet. The temperature and light, the absence of sound or any superfluous objects: that is what creates the atmosphere, a full connection with the place and the moment.
This place shows me that simplicity, in architecture, doesn’t need to be cold, or perfect. Instead, simplicity is about blending in, camouflage, and being so engrossed in the context of it all, that you become part of it… These huts belong to this place, they’ are a landscape element like the sand, the water, the sun or the plants.
I will never forget the last night I had in Cabanas no Rio. On that beautiful evening, I grabbed a blanket, a glass of wine, and I sat down on the deck, facing the river. The only light around me was from the stars, as the sky, without a single cloud, embraced the night.
Miles and miles away, I could see the bright skyline, filled with lights from the city that, seen from that point of view, seemed more alive than ever. There I stood, in absolute silence, with the universe above me, being a mere spectator of my own stressed life back in the city. I felt small, and, at the same time, also free.
The visual void, the quietness in the dark, the inexistence of anything else but that exact moment, that line in the dark, showed me that silence is much more than the absence of sound.
WORDS: Marta Lourenço
PHOTOS: Nelson Garrido
Good to know
The two wooden huts are approximately 14 sq meters each with a 2 person capacity. In the 1st cabin is a bedroom with a bathroom. In the 2nd cabin is the living room, including a small kitchen equipped to prepare simple meals.
Location & Booking Details
Cabanas no Rio is around one hour south of Lisbon, close to the village of Carrasqueira. Price: 200 Euro/ day. Minimum stay: 3 days.
For more information and booking requests contact us directly:
Nature lovers and birdwatching. A romantic getaway or a timeout from hectic city living. Not suitable for small children or those afraid of solitude.