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Project : Tolo House 
Architects: Alvaro Leite Siza
Location:  Lugar das Carvalhinhas, Alvite, Parroquia de Cerva, Comunidad Ribeira da Pena, Districto de Vila Real, Portugal.
Project year: 2000- 2005
Photographs  fg+sg/fernando guerra

Tolo House

The Tolo House or as we like to call it, “The Step House” is another design that is truly iconic. Ingenuity, is one of the few words that could describe the house in its entirety. This design captures what imagination and creativity could be done with spaces deemed inhabitable because of its steepness.  Its unique location gave way to a new design that championed a new way of thinking.


Architect Alvaro Leite Siza seized the opportunity to use the hillside as its main characteristic, creating different levels for each individual function of the house. According to Clifford A. Pearson “as you move forward, you realize the house is a path, both literally and figuratively.” At the very top is the main entrance from the street, then an office at the top, then dropping down to the living/dining/kitchen area, a bedroom, a second bedroom, a third bedroom, and finally a laundry and mechanical room. Outdoor there is a beautiful swimming pool.



The Tolo House is a great example of efficient utilization of land, using both its narrow and steep topography to create an  inspirational design.

Tolo House Stairs








Contemporary Home Design in Portugal – Steep Slope Home | Modern House Designs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.trendir.com/house-design/contemporary-home-design-in-portugal-steep-slope-home.html

Flashback: Tolo House / Alvaro Leite Siza | ArchDaily. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.archdaily.com/893/tolo-house-alvaro-leite-siza/

Pearson, C. A. (n.d.). In northern Portugal, Alvaro Leite Siza Vieira cascades Casa Tóló down a steep slope through terraced gardens. Retrieved from archrecord.construction.com/projects/residential/archives/0604RHg-1.asp