Architects: Marcio Kogan
Co-author: Bruno Gomes
Project architects: Beatriz Meyer, Carolina Castroviejo, Eduardo Chalabi, Eduardo Glycerio, Gabriel Kogan, Lair Reis, Luciana Antunes, Maria Cristina Motta, Mariana simas, Oswaldo Pessano, Renata Furlanetto, Samanta Cafardo, Suzana Glogowski
Interior design: Diana radomysler, Marcio kogan
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Project area: 6,820 sqm
Project year: 2002 – 2004
Photographs: Nelson Kon
In terms of an architectural proposition, the BR House located in the countryside could not be more intriguing: situated within the dense and impressive Rain Forest, circumscribing and penetrating the area, dominates all senses. The circumstances, from the inception, forces fundamental questions for architecture: how can architecture present itself and, if making itself present, how can it deliberately show itself as construction? A chalet or any other mimicry of puristic architecture, comfortably absorbed by the landscape, is a banal dissembling response; a denial of the confrontation which would deprive the traces of the radicalness and vigor arising from this contrast.
The questions placed in such a manner are fundamental, existential, to the architecture itself. The apparently special situation of the Rain Forest at “Serra da Araras” gains a universal character and constitutes a frequent theme for all of modern architecture. Le Corbusier in Villa Savoye reflects upon the relation between the building and the enveloping trees. However, Casa BR permits a more precise analogy with another Brazilian house, the “Casa de Vidro” (Glass House) by Lina Bo Bardi.
The “Casa de Vidro” project, though conceived on a property with low-density vegetation, imagined the Rain Forest filling in all the emptiness of the soil and the air space surrounding it. Lina’s project raises the house on stilts, seeking the visual perspective of the crowns of the trees which would quickly sprout in the fertile tropical soil. The living rooms are enveloped by glass walls which rediscusses the wrightinian theme of interior-exterior dissolution.
The same projective logic is present in the Casa BR. Similar to the Lina´s project, the house is removed from the ground to approximate its surroundings, its exterior and, as in the “Casa de Vidro”, the horizontal lines created are very visually distinct while the vertical ones have the intention of disappearing into the land. The “Casa de Vidro” is supported on round lean stilts painted a bluish gray and totally blends with the surrounding trees. The pillars of Casa BR are not lean, but thick, like the trunks of the great trees in the rain forest. The wooden pillars end up dimming the vertical lines, causing it to appear as if the house were hovering above the rain forest. The beams and flagstones are thick and distinct with the exposed raw concrete in the case of the BR House or delicate and light in the Lina´s house. In this aspect, architecture displays its presence, not trying to hide itself in the surroundings, but affirming itself as a human production and a place for internal protected activities, without any dissimulation.
The property of the Casa BR made it possible to create something special and important to the project: the house is approached at ground level while the entrance is actually located above the stilts on the second floor, where everything takes place (the lower floor is used as the service and bathing areas). The foreseeable ritual defined by going up a staircase is substituted by another, that of gaining entrance to the house via a walkway located over a fine thread of water and arriving at a wooden deck. This construction has a fundamental architectural purpose: it precedes (already having been built) the interior.
Another possible conceptual approach with the “Casa de Vidro” could be made with relation to the treatment given to the bedroom and living room areas. In both houses, the living room is treated in such a way that the visual barriers between the interior and exterior be reduced to the maximum, while the treatment for the façades of the bedrooms demonstrate the discretion necessary for an intimate area.
At night the relation between the interior and exterior of Casa BR acquires a new proposition. As night falls over the rain forest and the trees disappear into the darkness, the house functions as a flashlight. The interior light, filtered through the percolation of the bedrooms or refracted through the glass of the living room, illuminates the immediate surroundings, making the architecture, once again, present as both shelter and poetic expression.