Marrom House

Marrom House in São Paulo, Brazil by Isay Weinfeld

While Isay Weinfeld may be one of the most popular architects in his home country of Brazil, particularly for residential commissions, his name has not achieved the international popularity of fellow countryman Oscar Niemeyer. Perhaps this owes to the architect's penchant for creating simple and elegant spaces over sculptural objects, or his quiet modesty, or the fact he keeps his office at about 10-15 people even with numerous commissions with a mix of scales and building types. Whatever the reasons, they fall by the wayside when one is confronted with one of his designs, which make one forget about the trivialities of celebrity.

Like many other Weinfeld houses in the wealthy suburbs of Sao Paulo, the Marrom House shields itself from its surroundings by perimeter walls, thereby creating an introverted focus. In this case, the one-story walls are a perfect backdrop for tropical trees and other vegetation that stand out against its muted gray surfaces. It's no surprise that scenery design is listed in his portfolio. After all, aren't architects -- historically, at least -- adept at manipulating surroundings to suit certain views?

The interaction between outdoor and indoor at the Marrom House is characterized in one part of the L-shaped courtyard by a deep overhang that shields the living areas from the sun. This "outdoor room" sits somewhere between the two realms, especially when the glass wall is slid open. The first floor of the house reads as an extension of the perimeter, concrete walls. The top floor is defined by wood siding, a lighter material that contrasts with the concrete walls below in texture as well. Louvered shutters open to reveal the bedroom spaces overlooking the immaculate yard, with a rooftop terrace providing more outdoor space.

Probably the most memorable part of the house is the swimming pool, which wraps around the living room as it leads toward an outdoor dining area that's an extension of the indoor equivalent. With the glass walls retracted, one can get up out of the couch and step directly into the aqua-blue pool. It's an effect that's reinforced by the decision to sink the couch below the surrounding floor. It's also an effect born of his locale that clearly makes his desirability understood.