Built on a walled-off plot of land in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, this elegantly contemporary family house is an engaging and warm place to live. With all glass walls, the project by StudioMK27 faced considerable privacy challenges in its design. Since the second story is visible from outside the homeowners’ property, a solution had to be reached which protected their privacy while also allowing them an unobstructed view if they so chose. The result is a second story covered with wooden shutters, which can be folded sideways to open up the rooms to the sun. When closed, the shutters give the upper floor’s bedrooms a secluded, subdued atmosphere by filtering the light which passes through.
Though the house is very focused on views of its serene lawn and gardens, most of its living spaces are inside of the walls. Only a single concrete patio at one end serves as a communal space for evenings by the fire, and even that is an extension of the dwelling’s indoor living room. This lack of exterior diversification contributes partially to the smooth, minimal theme of the building’s exterior, helped further by the large size of its glass walls and the slenderness of the slats of wood lining the second floor. The ceilings inside are fairly low for a modern design, putting a focus on bringing areas together instead of broadening the gaps between them. Built-in furniture and interior walls are all finished in dark-stained wood, aiding the intimate ambiance inside.
The house has one major outdoor living space, a first-floor extension to its living room which contains a floating fireplace and a covered patio area for relaxation in the shade.
Both stories of the long house technically have clear glass walls, but its upper portion (which occupies vertical space above the property walls) uses a system of slatted wood siding in addition to its glass structure to preserve the integrity of the private rooms it contains.
Three concrete slabs provide barriers between each level of the house, as well as extending past its walls to form walkways and overhangs. The bottom two slabs, at ground level and between the two floors, are longer than the top one, with additional length added to shape the deck.
Large portions of the living room’s windows slide to the side to allow unhindered access to its outdoor counterpart, while the support columns for the structure above continue to adhere to the spacing seen inside. The two spaces are joined almost seamlessly on days when outdoor living is possible.
More sliding openings appear all over the sides of the house, even on the second story. They lead out to the lawn, to pathways and decks, or simply provide fresh air.
The rear edge of the residence is set near the back wall of its property, where a line of two-story trees is planted to preserve the privacy of those within its glass walls.
At the edge opposite the deck, the second story’s wood cladding wraps all the way around the building and a line of untamed plant life in the yard delimits the surrounding property.
Both the bottom and top floor make great use of their concrete overhangs, which cast convenient shadows during the day to keep the direct glare of the sun out while allowing indirect light to fill each room.
In its most common position, the wood siding forms a completely flat facade on the top floor reminiscent of the smooth glass finish on the bottom. However, the wood can be folded aside to bring light in, creating creases in the shape of the house.
The home’s main entrance is in the center of the first floor, though a simple glance at the smooth facade of the structure may not suggest that outright. To make clear where the front door is, a stone pathway leads visitors to the opening.
From the front, the house seems impossibly long due to its largely horizontal architectural lines. Though the structure is only marginally wider than that of any typical large suburban home, the clean contemporary design and concrete level barriers enhance its spread-out look.
By night, it becomes clear that the wooden siding on the top floor is not entirely solid or without spaces. Instead, it is actually a shell of folding outdoor shutters around glass inner walls just like those on the bottom floor.
As the evening falls, the accent lighting around the dwelling effectively shows off plant life at its perimiter, as well as the social deck at the living room’s edge.
Across from the fireplace’s smokestack, a small stand of palm trees pokes up through a nearly identical hole in the concrete ceiling, bringing nature into the architecture of the house.
While light streams out from the rooms of both floors, only the bottom level truly reveals the activities inside. Since the upper floor is much more likely to be seen from afar, its slatted siding keeps the interior safe.
Though the bottom-floor rooms of the abode are all completely visible by night through its glass walls, most of the main spaces are positioned along the most isolated edge of the building, with a large yard in front of it instead of another home. At the rear, the trees seen earlier help to keep out prying eyes.
A minimal, elegantly utilitarian set of steps at the home’s rear is the only passageway between levels, tucked away so that bedrooms will be adequately out of sight and mind if the homeowners host guests.
Even though there is little but transition space here at the rear, one of the window panels still slides away to provide easy access to and from this portion of the lot if need be. The top edge of concrete surfaces used to break up the home vertically are smoothed and polished for walking and living on.
A tall wall at the rear of the house effectively blocks the view inward, eliminating the need for another stand of trees to keep the abode private.
The flooring inside occurs in two distinct sections, with an outer ring of concrete framing its metal support columns and an inner section of wood to warm up the indoor environment and provide definition to each room. The concrete section of the flooring also conveniently forms hallways placed along the outer wall of the building on its lower level.
The living room and dining room share an architectural space in the house, with the former of the two separated further by an area rug. The room is wide and spacious, filled with enough seating for over a dozen people and storage for hundreds of books in its entertainment center.
Along the rear edge of the house, the back of the entertainment center forms the structure of an office space, complete with a professional computer desk and plenty of bookshelves. This office has a sliding door of its own, allowing fresh natural breezes into the workplace.
From straight on, the steps upstairs disappear to the eye, allowing direct sight through the building from front to back. Wooden walls along the bottom floor leading to the staircase start the transition to the darker, less outdoor-oriented upper floor.
The master bedroom is large, yet kept personal and warm by the sun-scattering wood siding along its walls. At the front of the room across from its bed, two glass wall panels can be retracted, allowing residents to move the wooden shutters aside and bring in light and air from outside.
This movable siding provides a staggeringly simple yet artistically executed solution to retain the potential serenity and security of the house’s bedrooms while also keeping the practicality issues of a purely glass-sided residence in mind.