ARRÁBIDA RETREAT

Inside Out is a wellness and global leadership centre located in the Natural Park of Arrabida, 40 minutes out of Lisbon, Portugal. Comprising a Kitchen/Reception Hub, Learning Studio, and 15 Accommodation units, this is a place for connectivity; to your working group, to nature, and to yourself.

Each accommodation unit has been designed as its own individual learning space, a place for retreat, deep thought, and respite. The units are designed to sit in quiet contrast to the landscape but never compete with it. These rooms are singular personal retreats for deep inner work.

The harsh local light is softened by a veil of operable screens, that trim the space to the immediate environment, and allow a multitude of dispositions. During the day, the screens open up, letting the space breathe and become responsive to the natural environmental patterns as well as letting the views, sounds, and smells of the natural park drift in. At night the screens fold back across the face of the room to provide privacy. Read as a set, the 15 rooms will emit a low, warm, dappled glow, like camp fires scattered across the site. Ancient and homely.

The bathroom in the accommodation units faces north and is augmented by a private garden, planted with native lavender. This room becomes a scented refuge, another space for deep inner work.

The kitchen hub is the main public space for the project. This building houses the reception, kitchen, and communal meeting spaces. The first space encountered on site, it holds and then reveals the view over Arrabida natural park and the southern coast of Setubal. 

A learning centre supplements this, creating a space for congregation and flexible learning. 

There is a consistent material palette across the site; the public buildings are coded in white, as distinct from the private black accommodation units. This sets a conscious, but not obvious, delineation and segregation of experience across the site. Each building is clad in a perforated metal veil sheets, operable to block or allow light and winds, and making each building as responsive to the local conditions and engaged with natural heating and cooling practices as possible.

As a centre concerned with wellness and learning, occupants may require times of quiet solitude, as well as others of joyous expanse, hence the veiled metal operable screens became an important design strategy. A key requirement was that all construction be subtle and delicate with the earth, needing to be disassembled at the conclusion of the resort’s occupation of the site. Therefore, light steel frames were chosen for construction efficiencies, future disassembly, and their hard-weariningness.