The Dovecote granary | Tiago do Vale Architects

| 19 : 30 – 30 May 2018 |

Dovecote granary, wooden cabin, wood structure

19th century built Dovecote Granary renovated by Tiago do Vale Architects seeks to amalgamate with its surroundings as a ‘treehouse-temple’ in a farmland in Portugal.

Located in the rural landscape of the Minho region, the granary now stands among the tree canopies in Ponte de Lima. Multiple award winning firm – Tiago do Vale Architects expanded the vernacular maize granaries which were built in pairs over a granite base. Combined now by a common roof, the ageing wood within the structure was replaced meticulously and strengthened by support elements. The creative solution lended the granary a ‘no specific purpose’ , but a place to watch the serene surroundings which was once a farmland.

The project recently won the third prize at the International Design Awards-Sustainable Living!

Dovecote granary, wooden windows, partitions

Dovecote Granary

wooden framing, cross bracing wooden frame, Dovecote granary

Renovated space in between the two granaries

From the Architect – 

The Dovecote-Granary is a place of serenity and introspection, where one can establish strong connection with both nature and oneself.  Without a conventional function the space is its own purpose: a treehouse-temple of sorts. Its roots are humble, though unexpectedly pragmatic, creative and sophisticated in their design and solutions. Like a precious little jewel of vernacular Minho architecture.

Granary, treehouse, Evening view, Wooden Cabin

An evening view of the all purposeful space


granite plinth, design of dovecote granary

Granite base

Originally built in late XIX century, its starting point were two traditional northern Portugal maize granaries standing over granite bases. A common roof united them under which there was a dovecote. The space between the two granaries was used to dry cereals. Two huge basculating panels controlled the ventilation.

Ventilation screen, Maize granary, Portugal

Maize granary

This incredible design was an unusual but smart combination of three very common vernacular typologies (granary, dovecote, drying shed) that are still part of our collective memory. The execution, unfortunately, was not without its problems.

Wooden interiors – 

Built out of oak wood, the structure was under-dimensioned for the demands of that construction. Receiving no proper maintenance through an important part of its life, the wood rapidly decayed. Though, still kept standing by steel cables stretched from the adjacent trees it was unsalvageable.

Floor plans, Elevation, Dovecote granary

Floor plans and front elevation © Tiago do Vale Architects

The rotten wood pieces, nevertheless, allowed for the full documentation of the design and constructive techniques of the building as it was when last usable. Opening the doors for a piece by piece reconstruction, in the same vein as the Ise Jingu rebuild every 20 years in Japan, but here at the scale of rural northern Portugal, preserving an interesting built vernacular document and using local artisan traditional knowledge to achieve it.

Carpentry details, Fixing details, Wooden roof supports

Carpentry details added to strengthen the structure

Times changed, though: there’s no farming on the property anymore, so the rebuilt Dovecote-Granary will not serve its original functions in the foreseeable future. It won’t have a specific use either: it will be what the nature of the space lends itself to be.

Wooden cabin, treehouse, Photography

Intervention of spaces – renovated granary 

These circumstances implied not only reconstruction but also transformation, giving form to the theme of the project. The result is an element by element rebuild of the Dovecote-Granary. With an intricate redesign of all the subtle carpentry details and a limited set of surgical interventions allow for its safe and renewed use.

Workspace, Cabin office, Wooden cabin, Dovecote granary

Dovecote on upper floor

Reconstruction – 

To fix the original structural fragility a small number of cross-members was inserted in strategic locations. These reflected solutions found in buildings of similar age, construction techniques and typology. Two new foldable wood stairs lead inside both granaries. An interior staircase rises to the dovecote, finally making that magical space accessible.

Wooden stair, Ventilation screen, Dovecote granary

Access stair to dovecote


Dovecote granary, Plans, Elevations, Wooden treehouse

Elevations and Sections © Tiago do Vale Architects


Wooden treehouse, Cabin, Dovecote granary, Wooden framing

Re-purposeful space upstairs

This project matrix was of a strict reconstruction with the added requirement of the most minute intervention to render it usable, enabling the minimal necessary connections inside and out.

Wooden stair detail, Dovecote granary, Portugal

Stairs added to granary

The Dovecote-Granary is now a sanctuary among the tree canopies, an iconic shape in the rural landscape of the Minho region. The experience of the dancing leaf shadows, the gentle crossing breeze and the birds chirping in a late summer afternoon fully defines its new purpose, function and use.

Dogs playing inside wooden cabin, Dovecote granary

New purpose and space for all !


Wooden cabin, Dovecote granary, Window

View of the surroundings


Dovecote granary in the farmland, Treehouse near a lake

Nestled among green space


Tiago do Vale Architects, Sketch, Dovecote granary

Architect’s interpretation of the granary © Tiago do Vale Architects

Project details –


Project Name – The Dovecote-Granary

Location – Ponte de Lima, Portugal

Architect Firm – Tiago do Vale Architects |

Design team – Tiago do Vale, María Cainzos Osinde, with Maria João  Araújo, Camille Martin, Eva Amor, Hugo Quintela

Project type – Forest abode, Retreat, Leisure, Granary

Client – António Paulino, Casa do Cruzeiro

Photography Credits – © Joao Morgado

Completion Year – 2017

Construction – José Amorim Lima, L.da

Area – Footprint – 183 ft2 (17 m2) | Construction area – 452 ft2 (42 m2)

Products –

Furniture – GalpãoVintage Alternative Store

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