Brutally Beautiful: Concrete House by Paulo Mendes da Rocha
Architecture & Interiors
Modernism isn’t always sweetness and light. The imposing urban work of Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, given the rough-hewn label, Brazilian Brutalism, is defined by massive volumes of geometric concrete and poetic juxtapositions with lush tropical vegetation.
This brooding house in Sao Paulo is the very happy place of Lebanese Brazilian interior designer, Houssein Jarouche. Founder of Sao Paulo’s progressive concept store, MiCasa, Jarouche was initially seeking a getaway from Sao Paulo, but upon seeing Casa Butantã, the hillside house designed by Mendes da Rocha and built between 1964 and 1966, opted to get away from it all right in the middle of Sao Paolo. And who can blame him? Rising above the city, resting on reinforced concrete pillars, the house’s seamless integration of open floor plan with outside patios, sweeping rooftop views, and black swimming pool offer the kind of urban getaway no city dweller would dare dream of.
Jarouche sought the help of Mendes da Rocha himself in restoring the house, which had fallen into a state of disrepair and become overrun with weeds. The architect obliged, reinstating the home’s original wooden sliding doors, devising a pulley system for opening the house’s wall of windows, and leaving intact the the original Portuguese floor tiles, which Mendes da Rocha had chosen for how beautifully they wear with time. So much for Brutalism being ugly.