Enjoying life barefoot is the philosophy behind the new 'Barefoot Luxury' real estate project in Mindelo, a port city on the island of São Vicente in Cabo Verde. This project turns simple and conscious living into intelligent spatial design, seamlessly combining local craftsmanship with contemporary architecture. POLO Architects developed a sustainable vision on spatial planning resulting in spacious and comfortable, yet unobtrusive villas.

Most of the Cabo Verde archipelago consists of a mystifying moonscape with craters, bumps and rocky terrain as far as the eye can see. This barren landscape with its gorgeous hues of brown, ochre and red contrasts dramatically with the deep blue Atlantic Ocean hugging the shore.

In true trompe l'oeil fashion, the holiday homes were built in the same material as the surrounding mountains, so that they flawlessly blend in with nature. The villas were designed to give residents the best views and as much light as possible. In addition, the homes were built as a structure embracing a central patio, including a pergola for shade.

This refreshing embrace creates an immaterial outside living space offering shelter from the harsh winds besieging the valley. Rotating panels made of African Kotibe wood offer residents the option to choose between wide ocean views and protection from the wind.

Development in the bay was carried out with respect for the environment and the local communities. The villas, typically one- or two-storey structures, were built in rough concrete, using the traditional, local construction method. Some walls and elements consist of stacked blocks of basalt from the surrounding valley. The roads connecting the villas were also constructed in basalt. For this labour intensive method, the local craftsmen's know-how was crucial; this goes to show that local craftsmanship and contemporary architecture are perfectly compatible.

Nowadays, sustainability and development are often approached using a high-tech mind-set, constantly looking at new technologies. These villas in Cabo Verde offer a perfect example of a well-considered low-tech approach forging bridges between cultures.

photography - © Francisco Nogueira



Going East (interior)


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