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Paraty House by Studio MK27, Paraty, Brazil

AR House 2011 Commended: concrete boxes define the two zones of Studio MK27’s house on the Brazilian coast

On one of the hundreds of islands near the colonial town of Paraty, just down the coast from Rio de Janeiro, the eponymous Paraty House is a charming ode to nature. The basic concept is delightfully simple: two large open boxes are pushed into a densely wooded hillside. The lower of the two boxes addresses the beach directly below the house, whereas the upper one connects with the jungle landscape above.

This simple horizontal division creates a fluid transition from nature to house and back to nature. The only way to access the island is by boat. Upon arrival you walk from the sea, across a small bridge to a crystal blue swimming pool, which sits in front of the house. From here a staircase leads up to the more public realm, a massive reinforced concrete box entirely open to the sea.

Another turn of the staircase brings you up into the more intimate, jungle-like side of the house. In contrast to the openness of the lower box, the upper part is capped with an array of retractable eucalyptus brise-soleil to shade the bedrooms from the strong tropical sun. A series of intimate patios lead into the mountainside, encouraging residents to commune with luxuriant nature. The jury admired the project’s strong concept and how this is tempered by subtleties in the handling of light and relationship to site.

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