Amra7 apartment in Brazil creates an ‘equator line’ with a unique shelf system

Designed by Bruno Rossi Arquitetos and Piratininga Arquitetos Associados, the building in São Paulo pays ode to the original mix of brutalist and traditional architecture.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Jul 29, 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 original building designed by the architects Alberto Botti and Marc Rubin in 1964| Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
The original building designed by the architects Alberto Botti and Marc Rubin in 1964 Image Credit: Nelson Kon

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.

The 26meter-long street front divided into 15 porches | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
The 26meter-long street front divided into 15 porches Image Credit: Nelson Kon

“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 concrete beam grid system that was revealed after the demolition of the ceiling | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
The concrete beam grid system that was revealed after the demolition of the ceiling Image Credit: Nelson Kon

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 ‘equator line’ that divides the apartment into two areas | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
The ‘equator line’ that divides the apartment into two areas Image Credit: Nelson Kon

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 new floor plan | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    The new floor plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Bruno Rossi Arquitetos
  • The variation of spaces due to an innovative shelving system along the ‘equator line’ that divides the apartment | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    The variation of spaces due to an innovative shelving system along the ‘equator line’ that divides the apartment Image Credit: Nelson Kon

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 living room | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    The living room Image Credit: Nelson Kon
  • Sunlight filtering the interiors | Amra7 apartment| Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    Sunlight filtering the interiors Image Credit: Nelson Kon

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.

  • The shelves that move to the right to create modulating spaces | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    The shelves that move to the right to create modulating spaces Image Credit: Nelson Kon
  • The view that shows the ‘equator line’ in response to the other spaces | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    The view that shows the ‘equator line’ in response to the other spaces Image Credit: Courtesy of Bruno Rossi Arquitetos

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.

  • The children’s bedroom with the wardrobe on the ‘equator line’ | Amra7 apartment  | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    The children’s bedroom with the wardrobe on the ‘equator line’ Image Credit: Nelson Kon
  • A bedroom looking out to the street | Amra7 apartment | Bruno Rossi Arquitetos | Piratininga Arquitetos Associados| Manaa Arquitetura | STIRworld
    A bedroom looking out to the street Image Credit: Nelson Kon

Project Details

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

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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