Cover Furnishings in the living area include the Vitra Slow armchair by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec and the Minotti Andersen Slim 103 sofa by Rodolfo Dordoni. Photography: Montse Garriga Grau / Photofoyer

Featured on the cover of the June issue of Tatler Homes Singapore, this house designed by Studio MK27 and Galeria Arquitetos combines tropical architecture with beautiful shadow play

Studio MK27 founder Marcio Kogan was a filmmaker before shifting his focus to architecture. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that his works comprise carefully calibrated spaces that flow from one framed aspect to the next. The Brazilian architect’s masterful control of light also enables balanced levels of shadow and illumination to evoke deep and pleasant emotions.

Boxy forms, raw materials and intimate indoor-outdoor relationships characterise his oeuvre of predominantly residential projects. Brazilian Modernist architects such as Lina Bo Bardi, Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Vilanova Artigas influence this language, which also responds well to the South American country’s tropical climate.

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Located in the Alto de Pinheiros residential neighbourhood of São Paulo, this house exhibits these traits well. Built in 2014, the property is the home of a couple who work in the advertising industry and live here with their son. After recently acquiring the plot next door, they added an annex containing a bedroom, gym and atelier that follows the original house’s spirit. Besides that, their brief to the architects was simple: the family wanted a distinctive yet functional home. 

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Designed by Studio MK27 in collaboration with Galeria Arquitetos, the outcome reads as a concrete box stacked atop a teak timber-latticed block. Large openings in the top shell reflect its communal programmes, while the first storey’s veil masks private functions encompassing three bedrooms, utilities and the garage.

The use of unadorned, natural materials registers the charming passage of time. At the east facade, the flat roof stretches beyond the end wall and folds down as a semi-opaque wall of cobogós (latticework in Spanish) designed by Galeria Arquitetos founder Fernanda Neiva.

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Within this interstitial space is a ramp that endows the passage from the garden to the living and dining spaces on the second storey with ceremony. It slows down the ambulatory pace and brings attention to the building’s tactility, although a spiral staircase stands by as a quicker, alternative route. 

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The ramp’s insertion was borne of pragmatic reasons. “We presented the (inversed) programme so that the living room—the client’s favourite and most-used space in the house—could have a great view,” says Renata Furlanetto, the project’s co-architect and a director at MK27. “Because of this inversion, we needed to think of a way to reach the second floor without having to cross the private area. The ramp leads visitors into the house in a smooth path, revealing each element in the home in a deliberate sequence.”

This strategy is one way Kogan’s cinematic sensitivities come into play. It mirrors architect Le Corbusier’s concept of the architectural promenade, which he used in his buildings to guide people through specific pathways.

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Like the ramp, the perimeter concrete breeze block wall is a common feature in Brazilian Modernist architecture. “The breeze blocks create a surprising light play throughout the day and allow fresh air to circulate through the ramp and into the building,” says Furlanetto. “Natural light always plays an important role in our architecture. The idea was to generate a light filter that could create different shadow effects along the way, so one could experience many different sensations along the ramp.”

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On the second storey, the ramp terminates in an expansive terrace that segues into the living and dining space. “When opened, the window frames are embedded in the walls, transforming the room into a huge balcony. The intention was to create a pleasant, comfortable environment in which the clients could feel at ease,” describes Furnaletto.

Floor-to-ceiling apertures at opposing ends enhance natural ventilation while framing views of foliage. Left deliberately unfinished, the interior concrete walls are a genteel foil to the furniture selection curated by Studio MK27 director Diana Radomysler. 

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Curvaceous and linear furniture combine harmoniously, as do modern icons by current designers and vintage designs that combine to represent the owners’ personalities. Eero Saarinen’s timeless Womb armchair for Knoll and a minimalist Jorge Zalszupin bench juxtapose with Slow armchairs from Vitra, as well as whimsical Klara armchairs and a rotund Sushi pouf from Moroso.

The lighting selection is equally congruous. An anthropomorphic Gubi Gräshoppa standing lamp animates the space, and an assortment of George Nelson-designed paper lanterns for Herman Miller emits a cosy glow. On the walls, the clients’ art collection adds punch and colour, like the furniture. For instance, in the living area, a Tomie Ohtake artwork lends a dash of maroon while Duane Benatti’s graphic, contemporary artwork behind a Minotti sofa enlivens the atmosphere.   

Downstairs, retractable timber screens make the bedrooms feel more cloistered. When opened, nature becomes part of the interior experience. “We created a private garden that surrounds the house so all the bedrooms can have a nice view. Windows are floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall to maximise the natural light coming in,” says Furlanetto.

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The bathrooms, which are mostly pushed to the edge, are also privy to this light and scenery. Access to nature is an important part of the firm’s approach. That the clients spend their free time under the sun, busy making olive oil on the family farm, attest to their love of the outdoors. A home should make living easy for its occupants, and in this case it more than fulfils their needs.

The June-July 2020 issue of Tatler Homes Singapore is available with our compliments on Magzter

  • PhotographyMontse Garriga Grau / Photofoyer