The São Paolo-based architect Fernanda Marques says her brief from her clients, a pilot and her businessman husband, for this sprawling home was to have ‘a dramatic sense of openness. And so, I envisioned broad spaces that develop continually, with no partitions.’
Certainly, the approach to the 1,200 square metre Jaragua house in Alphaville – a residential suburb with aerie-like views of São Paulo, about a 40-minute drive away – gives little away, other than the impression of a long angular silhouette, its thick white border framing dark stained timber and glimpses of the sky through the cutaway windows on the mezzanine level.
Step through the front door, however, and the interior unfolds as an impressive series of linked volumes. On the ground floor, Marques clustered the living, fireplace, dining, media and breakfast rooms, alongside the kitchen, study, cloakroom, guest restroom and staff quarters. The upper floor, meanwhile, holds the family’s private quarters featuring three suites with adjoining balconies, and a family room.
Each space – lined in shades of white and sand, limestone flooring and walnut veneer panels – is awash with indirect natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows or, in the case of the living room, a gigantic clerestory whose view of the sky literally floats over the panorama of rainforest and skyscrapers of the distant horizon that’s visible through the ground floor windows. It is a remarkable sleight of hand that Marques says was her greatest challenge.
Views aside, the other structural challenge Marques faced when planning Jaragua House was the weather. ‘We also had to consider heavy rains during summer, especially by the end of the afternoon, combined with temperatures around 30 degrees celsius during the day,’ she says. Which explains the oversized terraces that wrap around all the upper and ground floor living spaces.
With the sliding glass doors fully open, the deep terraces extend the visual line of the interiors to draw in the exterior garden and the indigo-tiled lap-pool. In this way, Marques says, ‘people can stay indoors, and be protected from both rain and sun. This also decreases the need for air-conditioning.’