Itaipava House

This small pavilion was designed as a weekend retreat for a young couple and their three children in a densely forested site at Itaipava, in the mountainous outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The house, planned as an addition to the main family house of the property, was conceived as a place for recollection and introversion in the midst of the forest, for the congregation and conviviality of the reduced family nucleus apart from the busy activity of visitors and workers of the farm.

The design proposes a ground-floor pavilion of symmetrical composition and very simple construction – four structural walls of rammed earth and a flat roof in glued laminated timber (glulam). The plan is formed around an intimate family room, a central living area that functions as the heart of the house and connects directly to the private spaces, without corridors or dead areas, distributed in two wings: one exclusive for the parents and the
other for the three kids. The rooms are closed to the sides of the pavilion and open to its Northwest and Southeast ends in order to gain more privacy, while the extension of the supporting walls are crossed by the central void of the family room to fit views of the mountains of the region. The family room opens directly onto a mass of eucalyptus trees that characterizes this portion of the predominantly flat terrain.

The Glulam roof structure, whose span takes advantage of the maximum efficiency of this material, rests directly on the sturdy rammed earth walls. The high thermal inertia of the earth walls helps keeping the rooms warmer on cold winter evenings and cooler in hot summer days. The raw, heavy, exposed materiality of the earth, locally extracted from the site itself, contrasts to the lightweight transparent glass frames that cut trough the enclosed mass of the house. Light wood panels in a wood-frame system similar to traditional North- American wooden cabins make up the internal partitions, completing a quick-to-build, inexpensive and uncoated construction, where an atmosphere of warmth and refuge is provided by the natural qualities of the structural materials.

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