Perfect poise: a Brazilian house designed around a ramp and an art collection
'The inspiration for this house,' says Renata Furlanetto of studio mk27, 'was the client's art collection and a ramp. The house was built around them.' The explanation sounds almost like a throwaway line, but its reification as a solid, three-dimensional house in a quiet leafy São Paulo neighbourhood is gratifyingly breathtaking.
In many ways, the aptly named Ramp House bears all the trademarks of Marcio Kogan's studio. The living room, invariably the focus of the Brazilian architect's attention, is an elongated right-angled volume sheathed in raw concrete that opens into a sheltered 4m-wide verandah that, in turn, leads into a minimalist landscape.
Of course, the almost careless ease with which the interiors translate into the exterior in a very complex way, solves the problem of Brazil's warm days and blinding sunlight while continuing a dialogue that the architects describe is based on 'the tradition of Brazilian architecture, both colonial and modern, which used historically analogous spaces for spatial transitions.'
On the building's east side, shielded by a full ground-to-roof wall of concrete breeze-blocks, is a covered 25.5m long ramp that pin-turns its way up from the ground level to connects the living room with the bedrooms and small home offices on the upper levels.
The sleight of hand intervention continues with a ground floor facade of local timber that folds into the interior, becomes the roof liner that, in turn, folds back into the ramp to provide a soothing contrast to the concrete breeze-blocks.
All of which sets the stage for the owners' rare collection of African art. 'Our brief,' Furnaletto goes on, 'was to create a home that in the future could become a foundation, but without the feeling of living inside a museum.'
The architect says the Ramp House's decor and interior design - here, the wonderfully intimate but spare mood is the work of the studio's Diana Radomysler - was conceived as a fundamental part of the architecture. Specific structural designs for the display of African masks, for instance, are balanced by a mix old and new furniture pieces by Joaquim Tenreiro, Sergio Rodrigues, Vladimir Kagan and George Nakashima.
'The brief,' says Furlanetto, 'was resolved through the architectural promenade, the smooth connections between different environments, the coziness brought by the use of natural materials, and the blending between art and everyday objects.' It is, in other words, another understated triumph for Kogan and his team.