located in the metropolitan area of lisbon, portugal, guedes cruz arquitectos has introduced the alcabideche social housing complex, offering residence to the elderly community. the project is promoted by the fundação social do quadro bancário (social foundation for the banking sector), ensuring high quality in terms of construction and landscape, while aiming to fill a gap in the support system for seniors. 

elderly persons residence 1

all images by ricardo oliveira alves 



situated next to what was a clandestine urban area with adjacent rural fields, in an approximate construction area of 10.000m2, the social complex by guedes cruz arquitectos aims to reconstitute a mediterranean lifestyle. in other words, the design focuses on generating outdoor spaces such as streets, plazas, and gardens, as extensions of the house itself, while forming an environment that balances privacy and active social life in a harmonious way. 

elderly persons residence 2



using a regular layout with a 7.5m modulation, the project supports an edified structure of 52 dwellings and supporting units. as in a medina, the different width streets are reserved for pedestrians who enjoy the shade that the houses provide during the day. at night they are guided by the light the buildings give off: when the sun sets, the translucent roofs light up in groups of 10, alternately, subtly and evenly, illuminating the streets, plazas, and gardens. a calm but cheerful atmosphere is created, allowing residents to walk around the complex at night, without worries or constraints.

elderly persons residence 3



meanwhile, the roofs serve several additional functions. in the event of an emergency, users can activate an alarm that notifies the control station of the central building and at the same time, it changes the box-shaped roof’s light from white to bright red. lastly, the environmental balance within the houses is achieved due to the white box roof’s ability to reflect light, as well as because of the thermal efficiency of the cushion of air created between the roof and the habitable area on the base of exposed concrete.

elderly persons residence 4



the central building, within the same modeling and principles, contains all of the common services necessary for proper functioning and quality of living. the concern to recycle natural resources has been reflected in the use of water from a groundwater source, which appeared when the foundations were being dug, for irrigating the green areas and washing the roads and pavements, thereby also helping to reduce the cost of running the complex.

elderly persons residence 12

elderly persons residence 6

elderly persons residence 7

elderly persons residence 8

elderly persons residence 9elderly persons residence 5

elderly persons residence 10



project info:


name: alcabideche social complex
architecture office: guedes cruz arquitectos
architects: josé guedes cruz, césar marques, marco martinez marinho
location: alcabideche, portugal



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edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom