This article is part of our new "Material Focus" series, which asks architects to elaborate on the thought process behind their material choices and sheds light on the steps required to get buildings actually built.
The Mipibu House, designed by Brazilian firm Terra e Tuma Arquitetos Associados, measures 170 square meters, and uses exposed concrete blocks to complement an expansive layout. Located in an unusually sized site in Brazil, a key element of the architects' design involved the consideration of the possible - or rather the inevitable - verticalization of nearby buildings. In response to this challenge, they designed a compact, complex design that answers the needs of their customer with creativity in the selection and use of materials. We talked with architect Danilo Terra to learn more about the choices of materials and the challenges of the project.
What were the main materials used in the project in question?
DT: Concrete blocks, cement, aluminum frames, and glass.
What were your main sources of inspiration and influence when choosing the materials used in the project?
DT: Benefits to the structural system as well as lighting and ventilation from the environment.
How did you research suppliers and builders suitable for the materials used in the project?
DT: Being materials that are not often considered relevant, since they typically provide a base or framework for other projects, we sought suppliers that were able to meet the demand, with quality materials and installation. The same went for the construction team, who would need to be used to working with these materials and have a reasonable construction speed. This last item, time, is still very underestimated by architects and should be considered as a part of the decision making in materials, not just their unit value.
Describe how decisions on materials influenced the design of the project.
DT: They allow or limit certain projective aspects such as size, the number of floors, openings and closures.
What were the advantages that these materials offered for the construction of the project?
DT: The possibility of facing a lean budget to invest in more relevant areas of the project, like larger sizes, larger openings. The space and its indoor / outdoor relationship were also very beneficial.
Did the choice of materials impose any kind of challenge to the project?
DT: Yes modulation and high structural performance.
Did you ever consider other possibilities of materials?