by Meghna MehtaMay 26, 2020
Originally built and designed by the architects Alberto Botti and Marc Rubin in 1964, this residential building in São Paulo, Brazil has an eye-catching façade. A large mashrabiya, an Iberian heritage typical of Brazilian architecture, draws one’s attention on Alameda Ministro Rocha Azevedo street, near Avenida Paulista in São Paulo. A collaboration between Bruno Rossi Arquitetos and Piratininga Arquitetos Associados, with Manaa Arquitetura for the interior design led to the renovation of the Amra7 apartment in this residential premise.
The façade inspired from traditional Brazilian architecture features an exposed concrete column and beam grid with windows with wooden trusses. Each of these pushed back insertions are two-meter wide. With a sequence of 15 such porches, each residence is provided with a 26-meter long façade opening up to the outside. The building’s appearance and the plasticity of the concrete showcases the modern and brutalist architecture with which it was conceptualised and built during the time. Internally, large glass panels frame the urban landscape, allowing the enjoyment of natural lighting and ventilation, while light can be modulated by closing the full-length wooden windows.
“Our comprehensive approach wished to enhance the high quality of the original project. Our remodelling design valued the modern architecture and structural beauty of the building, based on its rigorous attention to detail, providing new openings for natural light and views, and better circulation,” shares the team at Bruno Rossi Arquitetos.
The structural design expressed through the brutalist façade continues its narrative inside the apartment. The demolition of the ceiling further revealed the beauty of the modular concrete-beam grid system. “The clients demanded a daring solution to connect all the rooms along the street façade, that would result in a non-interrupted sequence of windows and an exceptional circuit for the family,” adds the team at Bruno Rossi Arquitetos.
The interpretation of the original 320sqm surface was identified into two wings: the bedrooms and social areas that look out to the street, while the wet areas such as bathrooms, utilities, and the kitchen at the back. To retain the emphasis, subconsciously, on this divide, the architects and designers created a 26meter long raised shelf system as the core design element of the entire apartment. “It connects the whole apartment along its extension and spatially defines an ‘equator line’,” informs the team at Piratininga Arquitetos Associados.
The shelf system or the ‘equator line’ is a structural composition made up of modular steel panels, sometimes filled with wood cabinets, depending upon the use. The long set of modules interacts with each space in a unique way. “In the corridor, the dining and living room, it stores houseware and displays art, and supports plants. In the family room it is used to store books and electronics while in the bedrooms it serves as a wardrobe,” explains the team at Manaa Arquitetura.
The shelving system moves along the rails to reconfigure and create dynamism in the original spaces in different situations as required. The flooring of the two sides of the ‘equator line’ also narrates its story; on one side it is covered with colourful hydraulic tiles in geometric shapes and wood walls while the original wood floor has been retained on the other side.
Most of the demolition work then took place in the wet areas, changing and opening the rooms to ensure natural light and cross ventilation. The result allowed for greater interaction between the kitchen and the social areas, as these environments are now separated only by retractable wood panels, creating two façades full of light and ventilation. The beauty of the handmade work shown in the tiles is also found on the kitchen wall with the remarkable Panacea Phantastica panel by artist Adriana Varejão.
Name: Amra7 apartment
Location: São Paolo, Brazil
Building’s original architecture: Botti Rubin Arquitetos (1958-1964)
Architecture: Bruno Rossi Arquitetos & Piratininga Arquitetos Associados
Interior design: Manaa Arquitetura
Project size: 320 sqm
Completion date: 2019
Time taken for refurbishment: 2017-2019
Lighting design: LUX Projetos - Ricardo Heder
Acoustics: Harmonia Acústica
Structure consultant: Aluízio D'Ávila - Eng. Luis Miguel Casella Barrese
Electrical System: PKM Engenharia
Hydraulic System (plumbing): Usina
Construction: DM Engenharia