Cork Oak House: Architectural Fusion with a Centennial Cork Oak Tree

Cork Oak House, designed by Skemba in 2021, is a striking house located in Amarante, Portugal. This single-family home intricately weaves the natural presence of a centuries-old cork oak tree into its architectural layout, showcasing a profound respect for its rural setting. Emphasizing sustainability and seamless integration with the landscape, the residence provides an innovative living solution tailored for a modern family. This sophisticated design blends rustic elements with contemporary finesse, making every space inside resonate with functionality and esthetic appeal.

Modern residential home with contrasting brick and wood exterior, large windows, and landscaped yard.

Contemporary open-plan living space with wood-paneled walls, sleek shelving, and plush sofa.


Modern living room with sleek white built-in media unit, warm wood accents, and elevated mezzanine.

A modern open-plan living space with floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed concrete ceiling, and wooden accents.

Minimalist, open-concept living space with wooden accents, modern furnishings, and decorative artwork.


Sleek, minimalist kitchen with wooden island, white cabinetry, and concrete ceiling.

Spacious modern bathroom with grid-patterned tiles, floating vanity, and large shower area.

Minimalist bedroom with built-in white closets, wooden floor, and a glimpse of an adjacent room.

Cozy home office nook with wooden desk and large windows overlooking lush greenery.

A spacious, modern interior with a wooden floor, glass railing, and an abstract artwork on the wall.

A minimalist yet cozy child's bedroom with a grand piano, shelves, and a child reading.

A well-designed child's bedroom featuring a piano, modern furniture, and abundant natural light.

A modern two-story home with wood paneling, large windows, and a lush green yard with a mature tree.

Scenic outdoor pool area with vineyard backdrop, modern architecture, and tiled patio.

A modern, multi-story building with a predominantly wooden exterior, large windows, and a surrounding garden.

About Cork Oak House

Cork Oak House embodies a serene union between environmental reverence and architectural innovation. Designed by Skemba in 2021, this family home is strategically nestled in Amarante, Portugal, with a design that honors a magnificent centennial cork oak tree at its heart.

Architectural Harmony with Nature

The house’s layout and construction pay homage to the cork oak, integrating its presence into all aspects of the design. This rural 730 square meter property utilizes the natural landscape, emphasizing minimalistic alterations and fostering a dialogue between the built environment and its natural settings. Architectural decisions, from site placement to material selection, were influenced by the objective to enhance the relationship between the residence and the picturesque views of the agricultural reserve to the south.

Innovative Design Elements

The structure features a distinctive upper cork exterior that subtly projects over a base of visible brickwork, deliberately aligning close to the tree, respecting its canopy. This design choice not only emphasizes the tree’s dominance but also pioneers a sheltered area that extends from the social spaces of the home. On the opposite side, the building steps back, ascending in height to incorporate a small pool serving the terrace and balcony of the bedrooms.

Interior Design and Functionality

Internally, Cork Oak House is configured to accommodate everyday family life with ease, hosting two adults and two children. The ground floor is uniquely designed around a central volume, which facilitates uncomplicated navigation between the entrance hall, living room, and kitchen. This central unit also incorporates essential supporting furniture, including kitchen support, a pantry, a bathroom, and a staircase leading to the bedrooms. The spatial arrangement is particularly notable in the double-height living area, around which movement flows to the three bedrooms, enhancing the home’s fluidity and interconnectedness.

Sustainable materials and design principles define Cork Oak House, fostering an intrinsic connection with its rural surroundings while providing a modern habitat designed to coexist with its iconic natural element—the cork oak.

Photography by Ivo Tavares Studio
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– by Matt Watts