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A Glowing Family Home

Leigh Leigh
Minimalist house by BICA Arquitectos Minimalist
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With family members travelling the world and experiencing new lands, it it can become easy to lose touch with them despite modern technology and video calls. Family is one of the most important things in the world. 

As Michael J. Fox said, Family is not an important thing. It's everything.

Which is why in a small village near Coimbra, Portugal, three brothers who inherited a piece of land decided to share it by building three houses. Not only do these three houses fit together beautifully architecturally, but are simple and effective. Designed by BICA Architects, they are a modern but minimalist addition to the neighbourhood, separated by narrow gaps. Each have their own gardens and parking areas but ultimately they are connected, living separately while remaining linked.

This is the modern take on family bonds and proximity—elegant, simple and stylish. 

Follow us on a tour of this unique trio of homes. 

Different dimensions

This angle shows what each of the three houses looks like from the front: a simple and minimalist double-storey that is eye-catching and modern without being ostentatious or lavish.

Because the property is broken up by the three houses. the homes look neat and compact and aren't over-sized, especially for the neighbourhood. This is a homely community of connectivity and family.

The houses are white in colour and the architects have chosen a simple, flat roof for each. This adds to the concise and packed-together look and feel. A balcony wraps around the upper storey, allowing for families to enjoy the Portuguese climate.

According to the architects, these homes are located on one property right at the entrance of the village, situated between two parallel streets. Paths running perpindicular to the parallel streets, on the top level of the houses, connecting them together. Large windows encase each of the homes while neat patches of lawn spill out in front of each of them. 

The architects have made the absolute most of their surrounds, working with the original property to create something quite unique.

Community living

The three houses fit incredibly neatly into the neighbourhood and community, positioned perfectly between the parallel streets. The soft white colours and natural stone wall allow the structure to blend into the surrounding houses. However, there is a unique modern tone that sets it apart. These are homes for comfort and dwelling, not homes to show off.

It's clear to see the different volumes and dimensions used for these houses, which mirror each other. Open spaces carve out the bottom level while large windows and balcony areas carve out the top level. A garage is hidden below the ground floor of each house. 

Heritage is important for those living in the home and thus it has been incorporated in the design, which we will examine in closer detail further on.

If you like this minimalist look and feel as well as how the architects have made the most of the space available to them, read these fantastic tips on How To Enhance Your Home's Layout.


This is a beautiful view of how all three of the houses complement each other, working together on one property while remaining private from each other. 

Walls separate the front gardens from each other, allowing each family their own exterior space without having to share it with the other houses. Each home mirrors each other as well, right down to the tree placed strategically in each garden.

Living in such close proximity to family is probably something quite foreign for most South Africans who often need a break from nagging parents and competitive siblings. However in this little village, family bonds are celebrated and its something to take notice of. Imagine your kids could play with their cousins just next door while your parents could host Sunday braai's without you having to drive anywhere. 

This is more than simple architecture, this is a celebration of traditional family values and a sense of homliness and community.

Pure heritage

The gorgeous stone walls that make up the perimeter of the three houses are a tribute to the heritage of the area. These materials have been used in the area for many years and so it was only fitting that they have been used by the architects for the surrounding wall.

BICA Architects have also explained that a fountain was built with the stone wall, replacing one that was old and falling part. The brass tap from the old fountain features in the new one, keeping the families and the community connected to their past. 

The architects have also designed the fountain so that it is enhanced by the modern and contemporary design of the house as they offset each other. This creates a vintage look and feel, keeping the houses in tune with the surrounds and their history.

The interior

According to the architects, the interior of the houses have been developed vertically on three floors, connected by a gorgeous stairwell. 

They've gone for very warm coloured wood, keeping the interior of the houses looking comfortable and homely. The walls remain white, allowing for the abundance of natural light that filters in through the large, glass windows and doors to be illuminated. This is eco-friendly and sustainable, adding to the minimalist tone of the house. Simple lights have been used for the evening. 

Read these fantastic Interior Lighting Guidelines For Great Design.

The exterior and the interior transcend, maintaining the beautiful, ethereal minimalist style. 

The large glass walls and doors are also glazed, allowing for insulation. This too adds to the environmentally conscious design, keeping the home warm in winter and cool in summer. 

While the interior is simple, it is incredibly efficient where every detail has been thought through.

Connecting the dots

The homes are separate at the front, but still open onto the street, allowing each family to spill out into the neighbourhood with little segregation. From the back, the houses are separated with larger stone walls and gates that slide open. A little back garden gives the families absolute privacy.

At the back, the interior of the house also opens up onto the exterior of the house, allowing fresh air and the sound of kids playing to filter into the home. 

The design of these three houses is flawless, providing beautiful and neat modern elements while maintaining a design that is steeped in heritage and family. The 21st century has been married flawlessly with tradition.

As Herman Melville said, We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.

Could you live this close to your family members? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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