This São Paulo house seamlessly and sustainably blends into its surroundings.
PROJECT: Planar House LOCATION: Porto Feliz, São Paulo, Brazil COMPLETION: 2018 SITE AREA: 7,000 square meters BUILT AREA: 1,000 square meters ARCHITECT & INTERIORS: Studio MK27 LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Maria João d’Orey STRUCTURE ENGINEER: Afaconsult CONTRACTOR: Fairbanks & Pilnik SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT: CTE STONE: Bellas Artes WOOD PANELS & DOORS: Plancus ALUMINUM FRAMES: Tecnosystem WOODWORK: Marvelar LIGHTING: Lumini
Looking down at Studio MK27’s Planar House from above, you can hardly tell where nature stops and the home begins. The house blends perfectly into the landscape—and that’s exactly how the architects wanted it. “It’s always better to be connected to the outside space,” says Lair Reis, co-architect of the project alongside Marcio Kogan.
The São Paulo house was created out of a desire to merge inside and out. “We realized there is a slope in the lot that made it possible to make it seamless and also give more privacy to the owners of the house,” Reis says. The house is basically two wooden boxes—one that wraps around common areas and one that wraps around the bedrooms, Reis says.
The common areas were created inside glass boxes that could be opened to the outside and easily converted into terraces. “These rooms can turn themselves into an extension of those terraces. You can entirely open the glass and the doors, concealing them inside of pockets hidden by the wooden walls and creating these integrations.”
But the desire to integrate design with nature goes further than looks; sustainability is of utmost importance in all of this architecture firm’s projects, too. They use as many natural materials as they can in every home they build. “The choices of materials have to do with nature to make the house natural, cozy, and simple,” Reis says. In this home, the team used exposed concrete, wood, and natural and ceramic breeds.
All of Studio MK27’s Brazilian projects follow a sustainable rating system by the Green Building Council of Brazil. Certifications like these ensure the projects reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and, ultimately, mitigate global climate change while encouraging green economy growth, according to their website. “This is something we planned from the beginning, and every engineer and contractor involved in this project considered the sustainable aspect of it from the very beginning,” Reis says. “I’m very proud we got a gold medal.”
The idea for a wall was suggested by architect Marcio Kogan. Because some areas like the gym and TV room are connected to the outdoors, the architects felt strongly about the need for privacy. The wall’s design provides seclusion while also allowing light and greenery to seep through. “We designed it in a very natural way,” Reis says. “It adds a nice element to make this transition from the very straight and steep, precise architecture to the organic garden.”
A lot of planning has to happen in advance to successfully execute a grass roof like this one. Specific species of grass and qualities of soil lead to the best results. For Reis, the choice was SkyGarden soil, a more “technical” version of soil created in Japan that degrades more slowly than regular soil. “Upkeep is not a big issue,” Reis says. “We needed to assure the structure and levels were properly designed to allow the water to get out of the roof and allow for the extra weight … You just need to keep [the grass] short.”
The roof’s concrete base was one of the biggest challenges for architects on this project. “We needed to be careful,” Reis says. “But the problems we were creating were to work best with the ideas we had. I always have this feeling that we are creating problems to lead to solutions.” The house’s plan is 7,000 square meters, and given its horizontal nature, the roof spans most of the distance.