Marked for their modernism, honest materials and their respect for nature, the feeling we get when looking at homes designed by cutting-edge Brazilian architects is envy. Whether small or spacious, these houses are airy, light and often have a daring linearity and an aesthetic that verges on minimalism. “Brazilian architecture is characterised by boldness, lightness and curved shapes,” summarises top local architect Marcos Acayaba.
Due to the tropical climate in this part of the world, there’s a need for methods of design that provide shade, bring in the breeze and keep the temperatures low, so courtyards, shutters, breeze blocks and overhangs are common features. You’re also likely to see plenty of raw concrete (a favourite of the modernist movement), natural timber and a lack of ornament. Perhaps most prevalent of all is the relationship to nature, where strong bonds to the surrounding landscape are formed via glazing, openings and spectacular viewpoints. Below are a few of our favourites …
1. MK27: JUNGLE HOUSE
It’s not hard to see why this home on the coast in Guarujá is named Jungle House (Casa na Mata), with the vast rainforest that encroaches on it. Architect Marcio Kogan and his team, veritable gods of the Brazilian architectural scene, wanted the home to be as inconspicuous as possible within the context of its wild surroundings.
Constructed predominantly from concrete, the home’s blatant linearity exists in contrast to its leafy setting. Flipping the natural order, the living spaces (typically the domain of lower levels) and swimming pool are upstairs, affording breathtaking views of the ocean, while the bedrooms are below, within a canopy of trees.
2. MARCOS ACAYABA: MILAN HOUSE
Designed by Acayaba in 1972 for his sister-in-law, this iconic home later became the architect’s own. With its statement curved roof of reinforced concrete, trio of half levels linked by stairs and large glazed ends that look out to verdant gardens, it’s a home revered by devotees of modernism.
“I decided to create a reinforced concrete shell, like a vault, which rests in four points on its vertices, to visually connect inner open spaces to the tropical garden on every side. A linear slab placed under the vault combines three different half levels organising the layout. The flow is continuous and multiple, avoiding repetitive paths and dead-ends,” he says.
3. ESTUDIO BRA: CASA PIRAJA
The third generation of family members to inhabit this awkward, narrow home in the city of Pinheiros were after something lighter, more open and more user friendly.
They knocked out much of the existing structure to create a new home split into three levels, including a rooftop garden terrace. The ground floor, dedicated to living, is maximised by way of vast openings and links freely with a neat garden and barbecue area.
At just 4m wide, this home makes the most of every square meter and remains airy thanks to spatial flow and interior openness, as well as careful choices regarding understated furniture.
4. PERKINS + WILL: CIDADE JARDIM
Located within a busy Sao Paulo neighbourhood, one of the main imperatives in the design of Cidade Jardim (City Garden) was privacy - as well as distance from noise and security threats.
This home offers a host of dedicated outdoor zones. Versatile wooden shutters hem in the façade and can be opened or closed to suit the weather. Pilotis along the ground floor raise the mass of the building off the ground, opening it up and creating the illusion that it floats. The building’s perpendicular arrangement, with the main and secondary structures at 90 degrees to one another, creates natural courtyards and garden zones.