Yoga House on a cliff at Vale de Moses retreat

Location: Amieira, Portugal
Client: Vale de Moses
Size: 80 m2
Status: Concept 2021

3rd Prize, Yoga House on a Cliff competition

Co-designer: Amanda Dolgā

Sheltering Sky is a yoga complex situated on the highest available terrace of Vale de Moses, a world-class yoga retreat located in the breathtaking, forested mountains of central Portugal. The proposal suggests a ritualistic experience through a carefully organized sequence of space.

Rather than proposing a single larger yoga house, two adjacent volumes pivot at the cliff around existing trees, each one orienting to a subtle difference in direction of the beautiful location.
The two pavilions are distinguished as a yoga house and service house (kitchenette, toilet and shower). Both structures share the tectonic wooden framework and the iconic curved roof.


Siting / Landscape


Climate and Siting
Understanding of the climatic condition of the Oleiro region is crucial for our design strategy, from careful siting to the selection of material.


Flora & Fauna
The Natural Heritage of Oleiro´s region is confined to the spectacular mountains ranges of: Alvéolos and Moradal Mountains and to the beauty of rivers and dams that contours the whole territory, provides a great variety of habitats which take in great Flora and Fauna.

It is a mixture of Atlantic, European, and Mediterranean plant species. Lush and green common oak climax is mixed and intervened by maritime pine with some cork oak, chestnuts, extensive coverage of eucalyptus, and a colorful selection of gorse, heath and heather.


Gesture / Approach

Approach Approaching from the access road, the yoga complex is concealed by a locally available oak wood facade.  Cast in place concrete stairs humbly welcome the guest into the yoga studio.

Spatial Gesture Starting with the grid as a spatial organizer, the structure splits apart programmatically. The subtle gesture of fragmentation and pivot creates in-between outdoor garden spaces to show our respect towards the existing landscape.


Ritual / Procession

Yoga house Elevated off the ground, the studio is safe from the seasonal changes of ground condition. The curved roof draws guests into a heightened experience with controlled light coming through low openings and skylights, depending on the time of the day.

With the shadow of trees inscribing onto the polycarbonate facade, the atmosphere of the surrounding landscape floods into the yoga studio while the user is physically protected from the harsh nature.

Atmosphere When the practice of yoga begins and the body gets close to the ground, one could finally capture the expansive landscape through the filigree of trees. Sliding glass doors allow one to reach out to the veranda and have a closer contact with nature. 

Ritual Completing the practice of yoga is only halfway through the ritual. One descends from the yoga studio to enter the viewing garden in transition to the kitchenette, toilet and outdoor shower. 
After the act of cleansing, one exits through the backside of the service house looking into a forced perspective framed by the inner garden and backside of the yoga house.

Our proposal carefully takes into consideration the local climate and bridges the users’ connection with nature through a simultaneously archaic and contemporary construction with locally sourced materials. Sheltering Sky embraces nature and shelters one from the sky to allow for meditation into the horizon.
All work copyright Jeremy Son
except when noted.