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Casa na Gávea


Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

February 2023


Caio Carvalho Calafate (Architect), Pedro Varella Jiquiriçá (Architect)


André Cavendish (Designer), Antonio Machado (Designer), Diana Joels (Lighting Designer), Marcio Pompei (Structural engineer), Laura Sugimoto (Landscape architect


Rodrigo Faria Vasconcellos


Rafael Salim


The project seeks to generate the minimum impact on its surroundings, whether visually, on the landscape, or through its simple implementation on the edge of the Atlantic Forest. We seek to respect the site's surroundings as much as possible, especially with the topography as an ally. The materials do not create a great contrast with the characteristics of the forest, generating a certain neutrality in relation to it.
The client brought the theme of sustainability as a topic from the beginning. We seek to use materials that minimize environmental impact, avoiding the use of industrialized or chemical products as much as possible. The project seeks to create covered-open spaces where air can circulate freely, generating shade beneath the slabs. In turn, these horizontal sheets form large overhangs that protect the glass, when present.

We are very interested in thinking about the relationship between this work and the way it touches the ground, but also how it relates to the sky. There is an idea of dilution of the walls that reflects an explosion of the idea of a closed object, including programmatically. The design of the work is revealed through the precise positioning of walls, which generate living spaces and organize the available space. The design tensions the weight of the walls with the lightness of the beams and slabs.


The city of Rio de Janeiro has one of the largest urban forests in the world, the Tijuca Forest, where the Atlantic Forest flourishes across its approximately 95km2. This forest, which was completely devastated by the coffee cycle of the 18th century, and then replanted from the mid-20th century onwards, is one of the greatest strengths of the city's landscape. This strength is not only due to the exuberance of its vegetation, but also to the presence of its enormous masses that define the city's geography.

Casa na Gávea occupies a plateau bordered by a stretch of this Atlantic Forest. This small living space is defined by the implementation of cyclopean concrete walls, which organize areas of permanence. The project occupancy fulfills the demand of creating an open-covered cooking and eating space, a small living room and an outdoor square. We borrowed the use of cyclopean as an abundant repertoire in the city of Rio de Janeiro, especially those that contain cuts in the land where urban walks pass through the forest. Slender metallic profile lines connect them and allow the laying of concrete sheets that cast shadow in the space, with the help of local vegetation.


In this projetc, we took as our main reference the cyclopean concrete walls existing on the land, but also the stone walls containing the slopes of the city's high-rise neighborhoods. Most of these walls are built with a mixture of large stones and cement, and are often not vibrated. That's why holes between the stones where water passes through, where the seeds are lodged, the earth penetrates and generates a kind of garden around this rock. These are called ruderal plants. So these are walls that we imagine will last for a long time, filled with vegetation in their cracks. They will receive moisture, limousine, they will transform. It is an interest in the disappearance of the design of the project, as if these walls will eventually become indistinguishable from the existing wall, when the vegetation takes over that place and only the metal beams and slabs remain.

In Rio de Janeiro we always design thinking about how to “live outside”. Which is about designing, through the design of the ground and the generation of shadow. This touches on a collective dimension of the ground, a support for the habitability of the collective human condition. This thickening is also social, political, and is present in the work of Casa na Gávea.

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