Portugal is the world’s leading producer of cork. Here’s an architectural project that evokes this national heritage while facilitating an intimate connection with nature.
The Casa da Árvore (the treehouse) is a primary school located in Leiria, a small town in the centre of the country. It was designed by a local office, Contaminar Arquitectos, and wants to strengthen ties with the neighbouring pine forest. The project also started from a reflection on treehouses, the dream of all young generations.
The school, completed in 2020, wanted to take advantage of the building geographic context – between a residential area and a forest area – and adhere to the school pedagogy. “The aim was to ensure that children were in constant contact with nature.“
A project designed for pupils
“The idea of connecting the classrooms to the outdoor space was the starting point”, explain the designers. Thanks to the large bright windows, the garden easily becomes an extension of the classrooms. Classes can be given there at any time, weather permitting. Raw and bare materials such as recycled wood, cork and concrete were chosen. Better still: they have been treated taking into account the sensitivity of children. The usually cold concrete of the walls was sanded so that the pupils could see the veins of the material, almost like an allusion to tree roots.
Trees that “can continue to grow”. By pursuing the idea of the treehouse, the school will be able to expand if the need arises.