Large concrete bricks form the basis of an unusual open-plan house in Brazil’s São Paulo. Surrounded by traditional houses, this contemporary structure not only stands out but also holds its own!
A house with exposed concrete blocks sounds very urban, and highly utilitarian. One look at the Maracanã House in the suburbs of São Paulo, though, will convince you otherwise. Constructed by Terra e Tuma Architects, this contemporary residence is full of light, greenery and the most surprising of touches.
Based in Sao Paulo, Terra e Tuma Architects is led by Architects Danilo Terra and Peter Tuma. Their work encompasses residential corporate, educational and commercial projects and also furniture design.
The three-story award-winning Maracanã House was constructed on a tiered site and was designed for architect and studio director Danilo Terra and his family. The house has two storeys above ground and one below street level.
The limited area of the “scanty” plot allowed the architects to come up with a structure that flows seamlessly, from lower ground onwards, with thoughtful interjections of glass and open spaces that conveniently allow light and air to flow in.
The structure was built using concrete in which large gaps were left open to ‘create a sense of flow between the interior and exterior of the home.’
The entrance is hidden behind a large black, white and red ceramic mural that hangs in front of the house. “You have to discover the entrance,” say the architects, inviting you to play along. Created specifically for this house by artist Alexandre Mancini, the mural provides a welcome relief and a touch of colour to the otherwise plain grey façade.
The main door leads to an entrance on a mezzanine floor that doubles up as a landing, bike-park and foyer. This floor overlooks a sunken living room and courtyard. The look is very industrial and the homeliness comes through thanks to an abundance of warm honey-toned wood in the furnishings and colourful art on the walls which effectively break the monotony of the grey.
The living room and courtyard are also awash with greenery – trailing vines and banana plants lend a distinctive tropical feel. There’s even a hammock available. The open-plan living space has a fully functional kitchen, a dining area and a lounge/seating space. Long wooden benches offer additional seating and make the most of the horizontal space. The teak-covered dining table was also designed by Terra e Tuma. In one corner of this floor, a desk overlooking the front garden offers a sunny space to work.
All of this overlooks the rear courtyard ensuring that the outdoors is an extension of the home as well. Tall glass windows with luxurious curtains divide the space and allow the courtyard to be sealed off, if required. There is a smaller courtyard garden at the front of the house as well, diverting the eye from the sheer road-to-roof glass panel that gives passers-by a peek into the home.
The bedrooms are on the upper floor, accessed by a flight of stairs. The views from here and the terrace are far-reaching and overlook the city with its traditional red tiled roofs, colourful facades and modern skyscrapers in the distance. All over the house, the chunky concrete blocks have been left exposed, enabling a sense of continuity through the three levels.
The architects use three words to describe the building: opaque, clear and vibrant. The opacity comes from the concrete, the clarity from the glass and the vibrancy from the mural and other touches that bring this building alive.
The geometry of the house is intentionally “discordant in relation to the traditional houses of the neighbourhood,” say the architects. The house surprises, reveals and conceals and somehow, still fits in as a unique dwelling place.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Pedro Kok