Modernist House in Brazil Designed For a Family

Modernist family home brazil - Outside pool

In the face of very specific guidelines for a single storey home following midcentury modern design principles for a young family of four, Samuel Lamas pulled all the right strings in order to make the dream home come to life. Situated in Lago Sul, Brasilia, it was important that the site would respect the delicate surrounding landscape.

With a limited budget to work with, authentic low cost materials played a decisive role in shaping the home. We reached out to Samuel Lamas to go into detail about the cosy and charming home located in the Brazilian savannah.

Modernist family home brazil -  Outside pool
Modernist family home brazil -  terrace

Can you tell us a bit about the story of this house/project and its owners?

This simple and comfortable home, located in a condominium near Lago Sul in Brasilia, is an efficient, low-cost building owned by a family of public agents who were looking for a home that would offer an enhanced connection with nature and positive cohesion among the family.

The first meeting we had with the couple and their two young children took place on the 1,600 square meter plot, surrounded by various native species of the Cerrado, Brazil’s savannah. 

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What did your clients ask for in their brief?

They wanted a single-story house inspired by Brasilia Mid-century architecture. Since the budget was very limited, the materials had to be cheap and authentic.

The requirements were: a living room, dining area, kitchen and terrace as integrated spaces. For the family’s private use, the clients requested a master suite with a dressing room, 2 bedrooms for the children, including a shared bathroom, plus a TV room that can also host guests, paired with its own bathroom. An atelier for the couple’s activities such as sewing or producing ceramics and last but not least, a  garage for two cars, laundry and a swimming pool were included in the wishlist.

Modernist family home brazil -  living room
Modernist family home brazil -  kitchen

What was your approach for the project? 

The base of the house is anchored with consideration to the plot boundary, preserving the the native trees of the Corrado region. The spaces are positioned according to functionality. This heightens connection with the exterior, with details such as full-height glazing that face out toward the gardens on every facade. 

The living room welcomes the two main garden views and the wall that divides it from the kitchen visually preserves the cooking area. The kitchen is the heart of the house and a colorful tile carpet with traditional motifs defines the dining space.

The atelier is separated by multifunctional furniture, which also serve the kitchen area, and its positioning allows the couple of look after their children while playing in the garden.

The bedrooms are facing east while the master suite has independent access. Walls ensure privacy while protecting the interior from excessive sunlight.

The garage has perforated plate paneling for constant ventilation in the service and storage areas, and the pool is slightly apart from the house in order to remain in the sun. 

Modernist family home brazil -  living room

The home was made for a family with young children – how did that affect the design process? 

A house free of stairs would eliminate possible accidents with children and would also bring comfort in old age. The couple often work and entertain many friends at home so the children’s bedrooms should offer privacy – to study-  and a place for contemplation.

The metal bars positioned at the bottom of the frames signal the children when the glass doors are closed. 

The kitchen is unique and captivating, largely defined by the same material as the ceiling which leads through the living room all the way to outside – what was the thought process behind it?

The project carries a sense of fluidity, continuity and repetition. The floor has the same gray color, either inside or outside, just like the plywood ceiling and furniture.

The graffiti-colored frames, identical in all façades, “disappear” at night and you have the feeling of walking around the garden. Internal doors, when open, do not provide visual barriers and completely connect the internal spaces. The flat roof also has a continuous shape. 

The furniture and art works define the characteristics of the spaces. In the kitchen, the warm-colored tile rug establishes a magical and playful atmosphere. In the living, the green Santa Helena carpet mimics the grass color.

Modernist family home brazil -  exterior
Modernist family home brazil -  pool
Modernist family home brazil -  exterior

A variety of materials have been put to use throughout the home from the ceiling to the floor as well as the floor-to-ceiling windows looking to the yard. Which suppliers for the materials did you work with and why?

The house basically has two sealing elements: masonry walls and full-height glazing in steel. The walls are absolutely pure, they are not pierced by windows.

The metal frames provide ventilation and access to the garden. Adopting simple solutions allowed us to reduce the number of suppliers, to speed up the building process and to obtain a better negotiation on the values of the services. 

What materials have you used for this project and why? 

We have chosen authentic low cost materials. The polished concrete floor and the masonry walls proved to be the most economical and aesthetically satisfying solution for the residents.

In the “wet”  areas (pool, bathroom and counters) a single type of gray granite was used – the most economical one found in the market – that follows the chromatic continuity of the cement floor. The wall of the main facade is lined with light gray fulget for a natural feel on the porch. The plywood panels used in the lining, kitchen furniture and bathrooms warm up the house and connect the interior with the exterior.

The flat corten steel roof extends to shade the glass panels with metal trellis for climbing plants. It requires no maintenance and the handmade iron frames cost 50% less than industrial aluminum ones.

Modernist family home brazil -  pool view
Photos by Haruo Mikami