Brazilian architect FGMF designs a house as a canny constellation of cubes

Brazilian architect FGMF designs a house as a canny constellation of cubes

Neblina House in São Paulo state’s Itatiba municipality uses its cubed form to conform to nature, while manipulating light and shade through its orientation

The question of how architecture should respond to the environment and climate may never be definitively answered, but the latest project from São Paulo-based firm FGMF Architetos is an absorbing case study in just how sophisticated the dialogue has become.

Set on a long wide plot in a quiet street in São Paulo state’s Itatiba municipality, the all-white street façade of Neblina House gives little away, save the impression of several cubes framed by low-hanging foliage.

Step through the entrance, however, and the space unfolds a sequence of Tetris-like volumes filled with an airy lightness that, these days, seems to be a de rigueur hallmark of Brazilian architects. The brief from the clients – an entrepreneur couple in the steel business – was for a private four-bedroom house that maximised the views of the garden and countryside.

Pool house

The house has its own independent pool house. Photography: Estevam Trabbold

The architect’s first response was to orient the house along the north-south axis, so the architecture would shade the south-facing open-plan living spaces from the heat that suffuses the region for the better part of the year. A capacious 95sq m swimming pool is set further down the sloping land to ensure that the main house casts no shadows onto it, especially during the short winters.

According to lead architect Fernando Forte, the topography of the site presented a challenge when it came to the layout of the internal rooms. The final iteration of the design involved cascading the bedrooms and corridors down a series of shallow terraces, ending finally at the pool.

Forte achieved privacy from the street by inserting a gap between the entrance and the living room, whilst allowing the slope of the land, the hallway, garage and kitchen to break the direct sightline and, so, shield the living room. ‘The plasticity created by the white volumes also contrasts against the landscape design,’ Forte adds. ‘The visitor experiences a totally different ambience from what it is seen from the street.’ §

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