by Sunena V MajuOct 12, 2022
When architects discuss architecture, they often discuss it in terms of its geometry, talking of lines that meet and diverge to delineate a function that a space must carry. But when the context becomes part of this dialogue, the boundaries associated with the definition of architecture - an enclosure - often gets blurred. At this point lies the potential for spaces to transcend functionality and take on new meanings. In this project, we discover something of that nature.
São-Paulo-based Studio MK27 uniquely responded to the locational context in the design of a villa that opens up to the beach of Itapororoca in Northeast Brazil. Overlooking views of the vast Atlantic Ocean, the architecture of this single storey residence sought to mimic the limitless emerald green waters surrounding the property, and in the journey of its manifestation, to become one with nature. Named Sand House, the 819 sqm development is engulfed by the tropical woods like a lost paradise where the pristine hues of the sand, sea and sky nestle a romantic getaway.
The house is defined by a series of five separate volumes that shape independent living areas. The idea of fragmenting the programs, as per the architects, was to avoid unnecessary confined spaces of transition such as corridors and entrance halls and to reduce the functions to a bare minimum. Described as the five capsules of life by Studio MK27, these single-unit volumes present a kitchen, dining room, living room, master room and guest bedrooms.
Distributed on an elevated continuous wooden deck, the units are designed in a way that these sit apart while remaining connected. Capturing the aesthetic of the surrounding woods and creating a binding component for the separate volumes, an elongated eucalyptus pergola covers these structures. The pergola is defined by 14 laminated wooden frames that protrude outwards in elevation. An interesting feature is revealed in the design of the pergola canopy. It allows the foliage of several trees located on the deck as well as the sunlight to pass through the roof’s 12 continuous openings, thus creating the imagery architecture getting camouflaged by nature. Studio MK27 describes this feature as a break in the rigour and logic of the modernist structure. “The permeability of the covering makes the environmental situation highly ambiguous, transforming what might have been a common canopy into a sort of fundamental emotional gradient that harmonises architecture with nature,” says Filippo Bricolo, representative of the design team responsible for the project.
Light filtering through the canopy render dappled shadows on the pillars and deck floor, imbibing a certain rhythm in the seemingly still spaces. Here, open on the three sides, the deck being the transitional space in this case, is used flexibly for purposes such as living, dining, or simple sit outs overlooking the woods. The enclosing passages of the deck that separate the volumes from one another reveal various poetic nooks. Despite being minimalist with the use of objects, furnishing and artifacts, the spaces appear 'complete' both in spirit and manifestation. “Everywhere within the property’s spaces,” Bricolo says, “one can feel immersed in a suspended atmosphere in which shadows and leaves split the sunrays creating a constant and poetic rain of shadows throughout the day.”
The five volumes are designed as concrete enclosures with large openings for sliding doors. Complementing the language of the outdoors, the interiors express muted tones of browns, greys and whites. However, a certain depth is injected in these space by black splashes rendered by certain lighting fixtures, sculptures, and furniture pieces.
While the interior design captures an earthy aesthetics, the outdoors of the house resonate with the green strip of nature surrounding it. A particular example of this is the pool, located slightly far from the main structure and just a few steps away from the beach. Composed of a curvilinear outline, the pool’s interior is marked by the parallel lines of two opposing in-ground staircases creating a rectangular area at its core.
Meeting its desired intention, the Sand House manages to effectively express an authentic experimentation around the dissolution of architecture into its context. Speaking of the perpetually shifting role of the space, Bricolo concludes, “The house abandons any reference to the dwelling machine of the modernist evocation and offers itself as a sensorial machine in which nature, light, shadows and the constant and infinite sound of the ocean become the fundamental materials of the project.”