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Though located just a block away from Avenida Faria Lima (Brazil’s Wall Street), Casa 3M seems like a rustic retreat nestled in the heart of São Paulo. Here architect Marcio Kogan, and his Studio MK27, have created a family oasis that not only belies its location but even allows you to forget the presence of next-door neighbors.

Casa 3M.

The house fits into a tight site in the city. Photo © Fernando Guerra, click to enlarge.

“The house is completely inward looking” explains Kogan of the plan for the tightly enclosed 13,000-square-foot site, for the 15,000-square-foot three-level structure. In approaching the house, which sits on a residential cul de sac, you are faced with a narrow double-gated entry for pedestrians, next to the one for cars, that leads to a subterranean garage. Passing through this secure portal, you find a lush tropical garden and swimming pool. Straight ahead you behold the house, where the poured-in-place concrete facade of the upper volume appears to float above the glassed-in ground floor and its abundant vegetation.

Casa 3M.

The living area and terrace, divided by a glass sliding wall, opens up to the garden and pool beyond. Photo © Fernando Guerra

A hybrid steel-and-concrete structure helps achieve this gravity-defying effect of a solid upper story levitating above the main floor. The open-plan living, dining, and terrace areas become part of a dramatic wide-screen perspective that is a signature of Kogan’s architecture. Sliding glass doors separating the terrace from the living and dining spaces abet this sense of transparency. When looking into the house from the garden, you see only two discrete steel columns supporting the upper volume in the seemingly uninterrupted space. However, two more steel columns offer additional structural support at the far end the ground level, as does an enclosed poured-concrete volume containing the kitchen, breakfast room, and laundry area, as well as stairs leading to the upper and lower floors. A stone wall that runs along the east edge of the covered terrace provides another means of structural support.

Casa 3M.

The living/dining area (1) next to the enclosed kitchen is edged by a planted border on the west, where the open shelving is separated from the foliage by an expanse of glazing (2). Photos © Fernando Guerra

Casa 3M.

The design teamed pulled the house back from the site’s perimeter along the two sides and the rear to create generous borders of foliage, visible from within. In addition, MK27 inserted two sunken courtyards that designed to bring natural light into a lower level, containing staff quarters, a large garage, plus a gym and sauna, office space, and television room.

Casa 3M.

The perforated concrete screen wall faces the road to the south. Photo © Fernando Guerra

On the upper level, bedrooms are arranged around a courtyard that allows abundant daylighting into the sleeping quarters while creating privacy from the neighbors and the high-rise offices of Faria Lima. Near the bedrooms is a family room, a more intimate space than the public reception areas below, but one that comes with its own sense of drama. It extends along the back of the house, screened from the street to the south by a perforated precast-concrete wall. Made of thick panels into which a rhythmic arrangement of deep apertures is cut, this feature pays homage to Lúcio Costa and other mid-20th-century architects, whose pierced cobogó screen walls were marked contributions to Brazil’s Modernist architectural heritage. And as the only portion of the house visible from neighboring streets, it makes a strong artistic contribution to the neighborhood.

The locally sourced materials used throughout the house are distinctive, especially the irregular flagstones of warm black basalt for the floors and the Brazilian hardwood freijó for the ceilings and folding panels separating the bedrooms from the courtyard. The result is an interior world of serenity and light where Kogan has explored the potential of the tight urban site for creating a family hideaway.

Click plans to enlarge

Casa 3M.