Located on a mountainside in São Paulo State’s Atlantic Forest, this house emanates the childhood feeling of being in a tree-hut: breezy, free from the stresses of the ground, and with an extraordinary vantage point to the world.
The house was designed by Studio MK27 for a São Paulo family who wanted a place to escape to in the weekends and holidays. An already-open section of the forest was allocated for the house, which is positioned in an area that is restricted by environmental protection laws. The homeowners therefore wanted the building to be as unobtrusive as possible, while maintaining a connection to the forest and allowing for a view across to the Atlantic Ocean.
The main volume of the house is elevated and built into the topography, and where the structure projects out from the mountain, it connects with the land via just two pillars. Created mostly from concrete and timber, the house features a green roof that blends into the trees when seen from above, explains architect Samanta Cafardo.
“The extensive green roof system offers many benefits, both ecological and economical, like increasing rainwater retention and improving energy performance. There is also a small deck up there; it was not in the initial design, but the clients were so impressed by the ocean view on the rooftop that they asked us to create an extra place to enjoy it.”
To maximise the views within the home, the architects placed the social areas of the house at the top, and the more private areas below, among the trees. This allows for a variety of connections with the surrounding vegetation, says Cafardo.
“On the ground floor you can stroll among the trees. On the first floor, light comes filtered through the treetops, and at the top floor, the vegetation is the backdrop along with the view of the sea. On the ground floor, where there is more shade and humidity, we created a play area for the kids on a raised wooden deck amid the vegetation. This layout was key to achieving better lighting and ventilation for the bedrooms and living areas, and at the same time taking advantage of totally wooded grounds.”
After following an impressive stone slab path through native planting and arriving at an entry deck, visitors rise up into the trees via a set of stairs that carry through into an unexpected entryway, which appears like a hole in the concrete box above. An interesting intermediary space, enveloped by shuttered concrete, houses a luminous suspended artwork by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.
The bedrooms on the first floor each have small verandas equipped with hammocks or Paola Lenti armchairs. Wooden sunscreens are mounted as folding doors spanning these verandas, and can be altered according to the climate. When closed, these give the exterior of the house a woven look that softens the impact of the concrete on the sides. The children’s deck perches on the roof of a wooden storage box on the ground floor, which contains the services for the building.
The upstairs living area is a large open-plan space framed by two decks: one contains the hot tub and sauna and faces into the mountain and vegetation, while the other, with the pool and an in-ground fireplace, looks out to the sea view. Furniture and finishes inside the home are chosen in natural tones and fabrics that are both comfortable and predominantly cool to the touch.
In the living space, two long Patricia Urquiola couches delineate the lounge, which is punctuated whimsically with fluffy white Paola Navone armchairs. On the deck, some Gervasoni sun-loungers allow the family to relax by the pool.
The floor in the living room is a step lower than the decks, which allowed for the pool to be built into the concrete slab. This gives the living area a cosy feeling as well, despite its size and openness.
“The raised border, relative to the height of the deck, also means the view and landscape serve as an extension to the waterline of the pool,” says Cafardo. “The living room has great cross-ventilation. This social space has a radical relationship with nature, by means of the view of the ocean and the proximity to the forest and the mountain.”
Overall, this home is a spectacular construction that maintains a clear, and respectful connection to its jungle surrounds.