- Team: Fernanda Neiva, Fernanda Palmieri, Gil Mello, Karina Almeida, Liliane Nambu
- Engineering: Arquimedes Costa Engenharia Estrutural
- Foundations Consulting: Meirelles Carvalho Engenharia e Projetos S/C
- Authors: Fernanda Neiva, Fernanda Palmieri
- Co Author: Gil Mello
- City: Vila Ipojuca
- Country: Brazil
* Refúgio: hidden or isolated place that offers shelter, peace and tranquility.
* Casa: house
Text description provided by the architects. Casa Refúgio was the name given to this house, so high and isolated that one felt closer to the sky and its birds than to the street and its cars, a quite unique condition for a house in a metropolis like São Paulo.
On the top of this very steep site we found the ruins of a single storey house from the 1950’s. The house was built 13 metres above street level and was accessed by a very uneven and steep staircase that climbed up the site through the existing retaining walls.
A technical evaluation requested to a structural engineer verified that all of the existing structures were stable and a series of guidelines were set for the architectural intervention: to not overload the existing structures including the retaining walls and existing house walls, to not remove or change any of the existing retaining structures and to avoid new foundations on the site that could disrupt the existing structures.
The project concept to renovate and extend this house was thus the result of a deep understanding of the site conditions and constrains as well as of its opportunities and potential.
Once the roof of the existing house was in really bad condition and had to be completely replaced we decide to redesign the roof top 1 meter higher than the existing to enable a whole new attic floor to be created. This new roof top mezzanine was designed in timber structure with light cladding materials to make possible to simply lay the new structure on top of the existing brick walls without overloading them.
This new mezzanine floor was designed to be level with the rear patio at the very top of the site. All living areas and the kitchen were placed in the mezzanine taking advantage of the open plan space fully integrated with the outside patio at one end and open to one of the most beautiful views of the city in the other end.
The lower level was reserved for the more private areas of the house. Bedrooms, bathrooms, tv room and studio were accommodated in the segmented spaces of the existing house.