Revitalisation of an abandoned village
Casa Branca, Portugal


Photos: Christian Daschek

Casa Branca is a village in Alentejo, Portugal, that was characterised by the railway for decades. The railway properties from different eras, residential houses, administrative and workshop buildings, are now empty, and the village itself counts only 80 inhabitants.

The cooperative “Estação Cooperativa” has set itself the goal of reviving this place with social housing, cultural activities, open workshops and studios. The aim is to create a new centre that enriches the entire region – a future model for rural areas.

Nine BASEhabitat students are spending a semester in Casa Branca, and a first building is to be converted and renovated into workshops, cost-effectively, with low material input and sustainable materials like cork, lime, clay. A main challenge was the renewal of the roof structure and the adaptation of interior spaces for different purpose. Many interested people from the neighbourhood and members of the cooperative were present when the studios were opened in December 2022.

The creation of these open ateliers were the first concrete step in the revitalisation of Casa Brana – and the beginning of a long-term collaboration between the cooperative and BASEhabitat.

In the summer semester of 2023, the students have developed some plans for the public space in Casa Branca as part of a university course. In September, parts of it will be implemented in a self-organised residency.

The next construction phase in Casa Branca is planned for the summer semester 2024. Then the revitalisation of a new building will be started.


Estacao Cooperativa

Students team
Aaron Eckert, Christine Gärtner, Lea Hartmann, Lorena Paulitschek, Mia Hemmerling, Moritz Berger, Nadine Dajanovic, Semjon Fehr, Tim Kölle

Site management
Christian Daschek, Joana Torres, Tania Teixeira

Assistance to the site management
CRU Atelier

Timber construction
Sam Boche