One is never sufficiently prepared for immersion in Brazilian nature. Literature, photography: direct experience of such a vast land sweeps away any set interpretation and arouses unknown sensations, like those which Pierre Restany, on a journey into the Amazon basin, recognised as “shock”. Art critic, European intellectual and above all urban animal, in 1978 he followed the course of a river up to the border between Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. Emotionally stunned, Restany on his return drafted his Rio Negro Manifesto, which advocated a spiritual naturistic ethic: “It is more of a struggle against objective pollution, against the pollution of the senses and of the brain, than against pollution of water and air” (Domus no. 588, 1978). A notable part of the recent history of Brazilian architecture can thus be re-examined as a “return to original nature”, especially in projects for holiday enterprises and homes. Besides the usual famous names, from Oscar Niemeyer to the landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, this development has involved such unlikely figures as, for example, Lucio Costa. The town planner is also the director of IPHAN (Brazilian Institute of Architectural Culture) and the architect who built, in the serra above Rio de Janeiro, the Parque Hotel de Friburgo in 1944. In perfect vernacular style, a small hotel is a very long way from his urban visions for Brasilia. In the majority of cases, however, architects treat context as a perfect background against which to erect their immaculate architecture: nature is a sleeping beauty, to be admired certainly, but with a certain detachment. Instead, Eduardo de Oliveira Rosa makes a clean sweep of all the commonplaces and rejects any trace of the idyllic. This residence reveals a manipulation of very raw volumes, materials and details – as if they were parts derived from an industrial construction. Some elements fall into the Brazilian architectural tradition: the house follows the altimetric contours of the site in an elongated Y; large windows frame the countryside; the central kitchen space extends outwards onto a broad terrace shaded by suspended metal nets; a double-height hall surrounds an undisturbed existing tree. Other elements, though, reveal a very different sensitivity: the parapets are made with a metal mesh of ordinary production; the floors, for the most part, are in smooth concrete; the exterior cladding is a mixture of fine black plaster that tints the perimeter walls irregularly and rises to meet the roof. Here a crudely built roof is made of galvanised sheet iron.
Eduardo de Oliveira Rosa
Born in 1970 in Boituva, São Paolo, Brazil, he graduated in architecture at the University of São Paolo in 1995 and obtained his Master’s in Architectural Design at Bartlett University, London. He lives and works in London.