This Old House was Transformed into a Contemporary Home with Stunning Courtyards and a Rooftop Deck

by Nicholas Chew

The Pirajá House lies on a compact urban plot of 96 square meters, in São Paulo, Brazil. When the new residents of the house – a young couple and their dog – received the house, which had been passed on to them after two generations, they weren’t satisfy with the house’s condition.

Project: Pirajá House
Architect: Estúdio BRA
Location: Brazil


After Transformation:

The spaces in the existing house were too compartmentalised and narrow, while the dim lighting and low ceiling did not meet their expectations.

To transform the house into a contemporary one, Estúdio BRA partially demolished the old structure, keeping only the masonry walls intact, as they were structurally integral.

Once the house was demolished, a new, two-storied structure was designed in its place. On the street-facing facade of the house, the cantilevered upper story is a blank wall that’s clad with concrete.

The facade is punctured by a large opening on the second floor, which functions as a Juliet balcony that can be closed when needed with a wooden shutter. The front of the site features a courtyard lined with tall brick walls, clad in chapsico; a textured grey material.

This “frontal retreat courtyard” is landscaped with species native to the Atlantic forest, to make the approach to the house more appealing and charismatic. The entrance to the house is through a pivoting glass door and sliding wooden frame, which opens into a kitchen and dining area.

Interior Area: 

On the ground floor, there is clear spatial organisation and the open floor plan that’s free of vertical enclosures creates a seamless flow of dialogue between the living room, kitchen, garden, and barbecue area.

The white brick walls of the interiors have been paired with warm-hued, specially-carpentered wooden cabinetry, and a white marble island. The flooring features beautiful patterned tiles in the kitchen and cumarú wood in the dining area and living room.

The living room displays the various structural elements used in the house including metal beams, massive bricks, cylindrical metal pillars, and panel slabs. A voguish foam-green sofa sits opposite a custom-designed metal sheet shelving unit with books, a television, and an action figure collection.

From the living room, a sliding glass door leads into a courtyard, which further transitions into a bathroom and a covered barbecue area. A Brazilian Grape Tree in the courtyard offers shade, thermal comfort, and also bears fresh berries.

A part polished concrete and part folded sheet metal staircase between the kitchen and living room offers vertical connectivity. Two bedrooms with attached bathrooms occupy the second floor of the house.

A large window in the master suite keeps the area cozy, well-ventilated, and bright. The metal portion of the staircase extends towards the roof of the house, where there is a small shed to do laundry and store equipment.

The shed can be accessed via a unique “shrimp door”. The wooden rooftop deck features a magnificent vegetable garden, and a small lawn, both of which are tied together with enchanting views of the urban neighbourhood.

All images are taken from Estúdio BRA unless otherwise stated.

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