Reimagining remote life by perfectly blending architecture, local craft and culture.
Hidden villas in Cape Verde
The north coast of this sun-drenched paradise, within the as-yet relatively untouched bay of Baia de João d’Evora, is the secluded spot for this exciting project.
This new hospitality hideaway blends in seamlessly with its rugged surroundings in a way that reflects both respect for the wild beauty of nature, as well as answering a contemporary need for a different experience of indulgence. Our low-slung, intimate villas are unique settings that embody the laid-back sun-kissed São Vicente lifestyle.
In a world where everything is passing us by with the speed of light, people long for slow living. Living with a certain calmness and attention and living in synergy with nature in sustainable buildings seems to be a new luxury. Enjoying life barefoot is the philosophy behind the new ‘Barefoot Luxury’ project in Cape Verde. The initiative by Serge Hannecart and Jan Talboom comprises luxurious holiday villas, a restaurant and some smaller lodges.
Understated holiday homes
The Cabo Verde archipelago is a lunar landscape with craters, hills and rocks as far as the eye can see. The arid landscape charms with beautiful shades of brown, ochre and red, contrasting dramatically against the deep blue Atlantic.
The first phase of ‘Barefoot Luxury’ nestles luxury villas into the rocky slopes of Baia de Jão d’Evora, a pristine bay on the island. POLO Architects developed a spatial vision for this project, contributing to ethical tourism.
The project at Baia de João d’Evora is approached with respect for the surroundings and the local population. The villas, one to two stories high, are built of rough concrete and basalt blocks from the valley; a traditional, local way of construction. Almost invisibly, the houses blend into the landscape they’re created from. The roads, also constructed from basalt, connect the villas. For this labour-intensive method, the expertise of local craftsmen is used, proof that local craftsmanship and contemporary architecture can go hand in hand.
“The nearby charming, old colonial town of Mindelo is marked by a tragic past. In 1793 Portuguese colonists arrived here, bringing African slaves with them. Their descendants now live scattered across the islands. This context was of great relevance to developing the project. The last thing we wanted was an alienating luxury holiday resort in a relatively poor country. Respect for the surrounding landscape and context was essential.”
– Patrick Lootens, founding partner POLO Architects
The villas are designed to take maximum advantage of the views and light. In addition, the houses make an embracing motion around a central patio with a pergola providing shade. This creates an intangible living space that offers protection from a fierce sea breeze. Swivel panels made of African Kotibe wood allow the residents to choose between expansive views of the ocean and additional protection from the wind.
Vintage with an African touch
Each villa has its garden with a swimming pool, an in- and outdoor kitchen and bedrooms with an ensuite bathroom. The houses were stylishly decorated by the Antwerp interior design agency Going East with understated design pieces. Vintage furniture and local pieces complement the no-nonsense architecture perfectly.
“Most of the villas’ furniture is made by local artisans. We scoured Mindelo’s markets for local objects ranging from shark teeth to Awalé game boards, wicker baskets and manioc mortars. The interiors remind us that we are on African soil.”
– Anaïs Torfs & Michiel Mertens, Going East.
Today, we often approach sustainability and development from a high-tech mindset, where we are always looking at new, more advanced technology. The villas on Cape Verde are a testament to a deliberately low-tech approach that can connect cultures.