Casa Tropical by Camarim Architects

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Portuguese architects Camarim have completed Casa Tropical, a holiday home in a fishing village in northern Brazil.

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The three-storey house is surrounded by a wide gallery for circulation on the outside of the building.

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The wooden roof and walls of the gallery shelter the building from the sun but allow the wind to cool the interior.

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Photographs by Nic Olshiati.

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Here's some more information from the architects:

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Mundaú is a fishermen’s village in an immense beach in the state of Ceará, in Northeast Brazil. 3º 10’ 42.51” South of the Equator, years are split in wet and dry seasons, with temperatures ranging from 22ºc to 33ºc. Heavy rainfall from January to July ensures a fertile ground where vegetation flourishes until December.

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The clients wanted a holiday house with 3 bedrooms that allowed wide possibilities of contact with nature. We have replaced the conventional solution in domestic architecture – a compact volume with internal circulation – with a gallery that surrounds the 3 floors of the house, and corresponds to 50% of the total area. Both the wooden skin that envelops the gallery and the suspended roof, shelter the house from the Sun while keeping it permeable to the cool South wind, avoiding the need of air-conditioning.

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We thought of systems in which earth, sun and shadow, coconut trees and other trees, dunes and sea, would complement the design of the house, suggesting a condensed and sensual experience of close and faraway nature.

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3 Floors: 3 Landscapes totally diverse in use and means of approaching nature.

1: the podium, at street level, looks over the garden. Two volumes sheltering ancillary functions leave an open space for permanence, with wide views over the garden, under the shadow of the house above.

2: the rooms are accessed via the gallery, which is wrapped in a wooden skin that negotiates privacy, views, ventilation and shadow, this last one treated as a living ornament. The walls have the roughness of hand crafted bricks, painted ice white.

3: the living room is a house on the trees, a wooden house on top of the concrete house. The open roof leaves space for 3,20 m high glass panels, merging coconut trees, dunes and sea in the open plan interior.

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Another house was here before, a weak construction, though with a rational structure. The new house developed around this skeleton, which was reinforced to hold the wooden house on top.

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The difficult access to Mundaú took us beyond architecture: we designed everything from structure to services, from sliding doors with guillotine system to beds and chandeliers, we were ourselves the building contractors, completing the 490 sqm construction in 7 months. Apart from specialized works such as glass and kitchen installations, the construction was carried by local masons and carpenters, with several generations of experience in native materials and techniques, and with few mechanical equipment: it is a building done with the hands. The stacking of autonomous structures, the inverted roof in cantilever, the size of the glass panels, are all new features in the region.

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Landscape design consisted of elemental interventions that transformed an agricultural land in a tropical garden. We selected trees and cleaned the ground, leaving the sand on the surface. The parallel irrigation canals, which divided the land, were redesigned as long diagonals across the garden. We modelled the site and laid granite stones from the house to special areas in the garden: a table under a passion fruit pergola, a street access under the generous shadow of an old cashew tree, a lush green hideaway. For the wall, we produced precast perforated concrete panels that draw textures of light and shadow from the nearby foliage, and allow for a diaphanous, circumscribed glance of the garden. The wind that passes through the wall shakes the water and the leaves, generating a cool microclimate during the dry season.

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Passive cooling is achieved by means of the gallery: it shelters the interior spaces from the tropical sun, leaving them permeable to the mountain breeze. The wooden skin that wraps the gallery filters glare, protects intimacy in the bedrooms and frames sights. Drinkable water is obtained from the roof, the deep stream or transported by truck; it is then filtered, stored and pressurized to the tap. Energy is generated from sun and wind, intense in the region, or bought from the public network. Hydraulic, electrical, gas and telecom services run in 2 vertical cores accessible from the 5 bathrooms and 2 kitchens for maintenance. In the absence of a public sewage system, we designed a sceptic tank with a super efficient anaerobic filter that cleans up to 90% of the effluent. The energy and service strategy of this house is unprecedented in the region.

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Project Title: CASA TROPICAL
Project Location: MUNDAU – STATE OF CEARA, BRAZIL
Project by: CAMARIM ARCHITECTS
Project Architects: VASCO CORREIA & PATRICIA SOUSA

Project Copyright: Camarim Architects
Photos Copyright: Nic Olshiati

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  • Zed

    I want to live there.
    Beautiful design, best of indoor and outdoor spaces.
    Very well done.

  • andy

    Not quite Southend on Sea is it? I wanna live in a tropical country!

  • charlie

    Stunning!

    conceptual very strong and aesthetically pleasing trough its layered transperancy.
    the house totally merges with its surroundings making it seem if the house was always there

  • http://www.winifredwikkeling.com/blog royal creme

    It’s the sand in the yard I adore most. It reminds me of Suriname.

  • Lorenzo

    Andy, I’d like to disagree. My family originally comes from the Philippines and it is trust me, a tropical country is not all what it’s cracked up to be. If you come from a cold place, you’ll die from how hot and humid it is and the bugs will make you want to lock yourself in an air-conditioned room for the rest of your stay. But then again, that’s just Southeast Asia. I fancy the Caribbean myself. ^^

  • anel

    this is nice and very natural with elements of of conetemporary design,…Bravo!

  • Moxikito

    Gosto disto!

  • Artur Viveiros

    Vasco, Patricia;

    Congratulations on your wonderful achievement. The project looks stunning! If you are taking any bookings let me know … I am dying to visit Brazil and this looks like the best spot!

    Best of luck…

  • Hilda Mathias

    One of the best tropical architecture projects. Amazing woods and materials. I like the surrounding gardens. Nice place to live.

  • sarah

    i’m interest with the building’s system that provide energy using the elements surround… a good idea though and how to comes up with a plan to keep the nature not to get polluted by the wastes from the house by processing them first before they got out to the soil…that’s what we have to think right now to become a good architect that care about earth not just money&popularity, i think. sorry if i’m wrong in spelling words. i’m not that good in english.thank you

  • Rafel

    The roof will fly in the next storm…. 1 2 3 now!

  • fernanda

    If you’re over 40 you might remember a book called ‘The Umbearable Lightness of Being” by Millan Kundera. Well, when I looked at this house the first thing that came to my mind was “this is the (um)bearable lightness of housing!!!!!!’ It looks like a bird, ready to fly and take its dwellers through the coconut trees and to the land of dreams. Just beautiful!!!!!! Congratulations to both architects!!!!

  • Mike

    At least we know the amazon is being put to some good use…..

  • http://www.estevaotoledo.com.br Estê

    I should put any of my furnitures there….. May be…Amazing house!!!

  • Marcelo

    Me dieron para analizar este proyecto en la facu, que lastima que no se puedan conseguir lo planos o detalles constructivos :(