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2016 MCHAP.emerge

Vila Matilde House

Terra e Tuma Associated Architects

São Paulo, Brazil

May 2015


Danilo Ribeiro Cardoso Terra Pedro Tuma Fernanada Lie Sakano


Gabriella Ornaghi Landscaping Architecture (Landscaping Design) Megalos Engenharia (Structure Design)


Marcelo Borges Ramos


Pedro Kok




In 2011, a young man reached out to us about the possibility of designing a house for his mother, a person of few belongings, who lived in a house with severe structural and sanitary problems. Ms. Dalva has lived for decades in Vila Matilde, an outlying neighbourhood in São Paulo, Brazil. Close to her are cousins, uncles, brothers and friends. The first option would be to sell the house, and with her lifetime savings acquire a small apartment, even further away and most likely without access to an elevator. A troublesome situation, considering her advanced age. Before long, it was glaringly obvious to resist displacement and isolation. To not move away. With this in mind, it was up to us and a network of collaborators to make it work. Once the process commenced, there was no going back and everything had to work until the end. Mother and son were ready to put all the money saved over a lifetime available for the architectonic project. This is not a very ordinary act for people from a more humble social class in Brazil, a country where common sense ranks a good architectural project as a benefit for anyone who has money to burn.


The house is laid out in a 4.8m by 25m urban lot. On the ground floor, it features a living room, lavatory, kitchen, laundry and suite, to attend the needs of the homeowner. An articulation between lavatory, kitchen, laundry and an inner courtyard connects the living room at the front to the bedroom in the back. At the center, the green courtyard provides for light and ventilation. This area also serves as an extensions of the kitchen and laundry. The second floor accommodates a guest room, rendering a total area of 95m2. A vegetable garden grows on top of the living room's concrete slab ceiling, and can be covered later to accommodate future demands of the family. A decent size house was raised with ventilation and lighting. The simplicity of the house in Vila Matilde, laid out by an admirable story, has restored the notion of architecture as the production of space eminently aimed at dignified living. The house open a new, and until that moment, improbable world for this family and initiate a discussion about our intentions and methods as architects.

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