This minimalist log home is designed to focus on a majestic chestnut tree

Located in Vale Flor, Portugal, the Chestnut House is a minimalist home designed by local architect João Mendes Ribeiro, centered around a chestnut tree. The glass walls of the house offer close-up views of the majestic tree, making it appear as if the tree is part of the house. The house is clad in black painted wood and also covered with plywood panels. It is also lined with oriented strands and cork panels for thermal insulation. The secular chestnut tree acted as the motto for the development of the house.

Designer: Joao Mendes Ribeiro

“The reference to ‘genius loci’ summarizes the starting point of the design: the site and the large centuries-old chestnut tree. The main idea of ​​the project was to shift the interest from the architectural object to the place and site so that the context is the starting point of the project,” said Ribeiro.

Defined as an “elegant hideaway”, the house occupies 25 square meters and includes a kitchen, living room and sleeping area – all placed in one room. A central fireplace is placed in the center of the room. The walls of this room are placed in such a way that they subtly envelop and hug the chestnut tree. Impressive windows offer a view of the huge trunk of the tree, further emphasizing the proximity of the house to the tree.

A cute wooden ladder placed on the south side of the house gives access to a mezzanine, which is small in size but offers enough space for an extra bed. A bathroom is located on the north side of the house. The mezzanine also offers wonderful views of the peaceful surrounding countryside.


The interior of the house – the walls, ceiling and furniture are all equipped with a plywood finish, creating a warm and minimal atmosphere in the house. The interior perfectly complements and accentuates even the minimal exterior of the house.


“The geometry (of the house) is broken and strained by the tree trunk and its branches, opening the building towards the tree canopy. The house reveals the changes in the seasons and the weather throughout the year. It is the changing game of the nature that determines the life of the resident,” says Ribeiro. The house enables the residents to always feel at one with nature and to experience the changes in nature as well as possible.

By incorporating an existing tree and making room for it in the design of the house, Ribeiro has succeeded in minimizing the nuisance to the site and protecting a beautiful mature tree.