While the world collectively aims to return to and reconnect with nature, residential architecture seems to be going through a radical change in adapting to it. With the advent of modernism, country houses built in the American continent witnessed a drastic change to minimal and contemporary designs within the inspirations of the pioneers of modern architecture. Abiding by the style of architecture that followed since and the vigour to return to nature post pandemic, the recent projects coming up in the Brazilian land have followed the concept of contextual architecture while considering the site and context to be a part of the architecture. Furthermore, this has also paved the way for more weekend homes to be coming up on the outskirts of the city. With escapism as the mantra, Brazilian architecture firm, Studio Guilherme Torres, designed once such country house which creates an atmosphere for its residents to connect with the surrounding nature. Located in a luxury condominium called Fazenda Boa Vista, Jatobá House takes shape in a box-like architectural form to move beyond the bigger box of urban life and city constraints. While addressing the social urge to live connected to nature, the house brings forth an architectural language where the exterior stands out on the site but the interior blends with the context.
Amid the Atlantic Forest in the interiors of São Paulo, Jatobá House rests as a white box encompassed in the contrast of rammed earth boundary walls. Adopting the volumes typically seen in contemporary Brazilian residences, the house unwinds in fragmented volumes dispersed throughout the site connected by courtyards and water bodies. While the concept of residential design initially began with a large block, through the design process, the single block evolved volumetrically birthing smaller volumes. Each of them functions like a separate individual unit with its own functional aspects and spaces.
Carving out intimate spaces from cuboidal forms, the architecture of Jatobá House borrows from the archetype of modern architecture in Brazil with its solid-void relation and integration of landscape into the built. While keeping the privacy of the residence intact, the architects placed the intimate areas in enclosed white boxes, while the semi-private areas are connected with courtyards and water bodies. The four white rectangular spaces are occupied by the bedrooms of the young couple and their teenage kids. The semi-open volumes with wooden detailing host the living room, dining room, and other recreational areas. Moving forth with the client’s wish to have a TV room, the Brazilian architects created a space which not only aids the particular need but also provides a comfortable setting with a sunken room. The dining and living room are separated by a large multifunctional counter with its surface coated in flamed granite.
Emphasising the relation between architecture and landscape, the architects connect the exterior and interior in a manner where the site is allowed to flow through the residence. A leisure area with a sauna, spa, and pool on three levels provides a serene setting to frame the surrounding natural views. Adding to them is the rammed-earth construction with a wall that runs across the living room and culminates to be a waterfall thereby satisfying all senses of experiencing nature. Substituting concrete for the construction, the house is completely made up of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) with a few statement walls in rammed-earth architecture. The rammed-earth walls are made with sand and earth from the site itself, therefore indulging the context to be a part of the process. “This millennial technique creates a unique identity, for there is nothing like it anywhere in the world, both in aesthetics – the colouring and spacing of the layers – and in size,” state the architects in an official release.
Presenting the form and space of the residence in hierarchy and mutual relation to volumes are the planned inlets of natural light. Contrasting the perception of volumes between the white and wooden boxes are the ample yet controlled placement of fenestrations. From the open spaces of the living room and dining room to the closed spaces of the bedrooms, skylights aid the gradual transition. Adding to the ambience of the residence is the furniture design and material palette. On their choice of basalt shards as the flooring material – the predominant stone in the Moon’s soil- the Brazilian architects share, “Walking through the corridors of Jatobá House is like floating on lunar soil: the feeling of calmness, far from all civilisation, is very similar.” The architecture also initiates a conversation between intriguing materiality and landscape, bringing together a narrative in stone, timber, water, vegetation and earth.
Most of the furniture is from Guilherme Torres’ own collection, including the Supernova table and the Orbe Chair. Furthermore, the architects mention, “We chose handcrafted artwork, made by indigenous people, to create unique compositions, matching the project’s raw colours and materials, such as rustic wood, earthen bricks, and beamless structural block walls.” In addition to the customised furniture is the landscape design that wraps all distinctive elements into a single experiential house. The shallow waterbodies at different nodes of the building provide separate blocks with a familiar identity. The courtyard in the pockets helps the spaces in transitioning between private and semi-private spaces. While placing spill-out spaces throughout the design, the architecture and landscape of Jatobá House remain in conversation with each other rather and exist as a whole than parts of each.
For the house that rests on a land far from the city, the architects have attempted to make the architecture reciprocative of the site and its natural surrounding. Though the aesthetics of Jatobá House seem to draw inspiration from the widely seen architectural styles of contemporary residences in the outskirts of the United States, the attention that responds to the natural vegetation, terrain and surroundings makes the house a sanctum in nature. However, while the architecture of similar patterns rises to be drawn as an archetype for new-age residences, at what point will it seize to be an architectural language and blur into a repetition of a popular style?
Name: Jatobá House
Architect: Guilherme Torres
Floor covering and supplier: Brushed basalt – Rocamar
Sofa, White armchairs, table and benches: Design by Guilherme Torres – ArboREAL
Wall and ceiling cladding and the supplier: CLT – Crosslam
Rug: Aqua – Nani Chinellato
Green armchair: Vivi, Sérgio Rodrigues – Dpot
Gray armchairs: Zeca, Zanine Caldas – Dpot
Table: LBB Magazine Table by Lina Bo Bardi – Etel
Round tables: ArboReal
Supernova Table, Slice Sofa and Orbe Chair: Design by Guilherme Torres – NOS Furniture
Buffet: Granite Countertop Itaúnas flameado – Eccomarmi / Planned: Todeschini
Cuba: Design by Guilherme Torres – Rocamar
Bed: CLT, Design by Guilherme Torres – Crosslam