Located in Joanopolis, a small municipality a few hours north of São Paulo, this vacation house was recently designed by UNA Architects for a pair of friends.

The site’s stunning position at the base of the tall Mantiqueira Mountain bordering São Paulo and Minas Gerais was a prime inspiration for the structure’s final shape. Orientated towards the nearby Piracaia Lake, the house is a simple rectangular box blending half-buried in the surrounding environment.

The architects’ aim was to integrate the building within the landscape as much as possible. In order to achieve that, a big part of it is built as a composition of heavy stone walls, created with locally-sourced stone and using indigenous techniques. These walls frame the structure and also define a series of three inner interconnected courtyards that support the interior’s natural ventilation system.

The white tower, another distinctive feature, shoots vertically from the otherwise low structure of the design, carrying the house’s entire infrastructure, from water tanks to heaters and chimneys. As the house is only half visible from street level, the tower is also the main architectural feature visible from such a vantage point.

The building is strongly linked to the surrounding nature in many respects. It is designed on a single level, however, an exterior path can also lead to the street or the structure’s flat green roof.

Sliding glass doors towards the garden unite interior and exterior, opening the house up to the scenery in a traditionally Brazilian fashion. This is the case for most of the house’s large openings, although extra wooden sliding panels were placed in the bedroom windows in order for them to tightly shut at night.