BF House / Humberto Hermeto

Architect: Humberto Hermeto
Location: Vila Castela, Nova Lima, MG, Brazil
Collaborator: André Gabrich
Structural Engineering: Carlos Alberto Fonseca
Electrical & Sanitary Services: Projelet Projetos de Sistemas Prediais Ltda
Contractor: PHM Engenharia
Project year: 2004/2005
Photographs: Eduardo Eckenfels

The premise of the project was to have a house as a platform with all the spaces in a single level (which should be as high as possible to take advantage of existing views). The owners had already purchased a lot, and off comes the complicated topography of the proposal.

section 01

With an average incline of 68% in the front of the property (more specifically in its first 10 meters), the ground presents the first obstacle to overcome: land works. A first simulation had a ramp going up but the cost of displacing dirt was so high that the idea was not feasible (the cost of moving earth and building foundations for the ramp exceeded the price paid for the property). In addition, this ramp would use more than 60% of the area, which made impossible the implementation of a project according to customer requirements.

So we opted for a cut in the front lower part of the lot a strip of about 16 ft for parking. A retaining wall 13 ft tall holds the remaining earth and access of the residents are provided by an elevator. The house is almost 50ft above, a longitudinal body that opens to a sun terrace oriented north (remember, in the southern hemisphere the sun is north of all). Its eastern end is moved according to the rules creating a belvedere-living room with 3 walls that give the residents 180 degree view.

The structure of the house is conventional: 16 columns (resting on a pile base) holding the main body: alongside a pair of longitudinal beams support the floor slab, and another pair (in this case inverted) holding the roof slab, free of internal elements that also functions as an integrating element of the proposed spaces.

A void separates the private and social areas while also providing the connection to the lower level that houses a service area, a study, maids quarters and a sauna. As part of the functional link between the body of the house and the entertainment area, the terrace serves as an extension of the kitchen, freeing most space and avoiding the need for another enclosure for the barbecue grill and seating area.

Cite: "BF House / Humberto Hermeto" 14 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • JDR

    I get the concepts, but the implementation of them kinda broke the project. Especially the structural work is not well done. With a slope like that you can make the overhang much more elegant, and with a budget for a house like this, why not call Ove Arup :)

    After scrolling once more through the images, i am not at all convinced.


  • One

    This acrobatic house asn its appeal OK, buut I assume that in the glass box will be cooking hot.

  • Jeison

    I agree with JDR about the implementation broking the project. Though, I wonder how the structure could have been shaped to look better than this…

  • Jeison

    Plus, the family must pray for the elevator to work right everyday!

  • Michael Albert

    Good stuff: BF House / Humberto Hermeto

  • AMR

    You guys are harsh.
    Arup’s fees are probably out of the reach of the client for this project actually.
    The solution would be much more elegant though just by stopping the floor and roof beams about 600-900 millimetres from the end of the concrete slabs.
    I like it except for the elevator location, it could be placed further back in the ‘core’ of the building, hidden from view. Just my preference.

    • Tashio

      I understand what you are saying about moving it to the core. Yet I think the view you get from riding up is quite remarkable since you start in what I believe is a garage and then you go up and all of a sudden you see this vast landscape. Something about that seems appealing from riding inside the elevator but aesthetically it looks bad from the outside.

  • Yleberre

    BF House / Humberto Hermeto

  • Mário

    Cê u cê é cê o

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  • Dunan

    The only thing i like is the swimming pool and the view. What a pity that a great place has been wasted with such a show of construction. Just “Neveu riche” taste, nothing behind… actually the house it’s a monster.

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  • Henrique

    Hi, I have a very similar property and I’m looking for solutions/ideas to build a house. Could you please share any link/photos/comments of houses done in place with this kind of topography? Thanks!