Sítio da Lezíria - Living like horses

Sítio da Lezíria - Living like horses

Sítio da Lezíria

The name Sítio da Lezíria does not designate the building described in this article, but the area in Portugal, where it is situated.

It is a property of 14 hectares that has been used agriculturally since centuries. Two existing buildings are located there, a former manor house, and the associated horse stable. In 2012, the architects of ATELIER DATA took charge of the refurbishment of the stable.

From a stable to a dwelling house

Since there was no need for using the building as a stable any longer, it was decided to convert it into a dwelling house. Apart from this, this project was supposed to set a trend. For in the rural regions of Portugal the question of how to combine former agricultural properties with a new kind of agricultural labour and lifestyle often arises.

Conversion with guideline

The architects decided to deal carefully with the existing building, and set some guidelines for its conversion.


  • the original wooden frame structure should be preserved
  • the so called “horse path” should become part of the floor plan, and, thus, be preserved as well
  • the former partitions for the horses should be converted into flexible rooms
  • the traditional designs and materials of the region should be rediscovered and reinterpreted
  • the water distribution of the interior of the building should be preserved

Portuguese summer nights

Five large rooms were created within the old stable structures. Four of them can be used as bedrooms, and the fifth as a living area with a kitchen. The sequence of rooms results from the former structure of the building. All five rooms are set linearly in a row, similar to the former horse boxes, and are connected by a corridor in the middle of the building.  This corridor is the former “horse path”. Every room has at least two outer walls facing east and west respectively.  Large glazing offers a view of the surrounding landscape from every room. Furthermore, the transversely arranged rooms allow an uncomplicated cross ventilation. This should appeal to the residents of the house in Portuguese summer nights.

For the interior design, the architects opted for cost-efficient and robust materials. Thus, the floor was made of concrete, and waxed subsequently. The sanitary rooms were surfaced with old mosaics. Their design is typical for Portugal, displaying beautiful geometrical patterns and colourful paintings. The inner walls were plastered with cement, and waxed as well. The old truss was reworked, and painted white. It was left open and, thus, visible.

The Portuguese artist  João Mouro was hired for designing the bathrooms. He decorated the washbasins/shower tubs with mosaics of recycled materials.

Conclusion +++

I was very impressed by this building. The floor plans resulting from the conversion are simple and ingenious at the same time. I also liked the exposed presence of the truss, and the preservation of the “horse path”.  Hereby, a sequence of walk-through rooms connected by a corridor (“horse path”) in the middle has been created. The rooms can be separated from each other by doors. At the centre of the house, there is central separating door, by which the house can be separated into two areas. Despite the open floor plans, privacy is sufficiently ensured.

Project details



Artist: João Mouro


Project year: 2012


Project area: 210 sqm


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