A+Paradise: Casa Delta Is a Majestic, Modern Extension of Brazil’s Jungle Canopy

That Thiago Bernardes has established himself as a renowned designer of wonder-homes in his native Brazil will come as little surprise to those who are familiar with the architect’s family history. Thiago is the grandson of Sergio Bernardes, a larger-than-life pioneer of utopian architecture in 1960s Brazil who could purportedly design a staggering 25 homes a month at the pinnacle of his career.

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With 90+ categories and 300+ jurors, the Architizer A+Awards is the world’s definitive architectural awards program. In anticipation of the Awards Gala and Phaidon book launch on May 14, we are pleased to take a closer look at some of the winners of the 2015 Awards program — see all of them here.

That Thiago Bernardes has established himself as a renowned designer of wonder-homes in his native Brazil will come as little surprise to those who are familiar with the architect’s family history. Thiago is the grandson of Sergio Bernardes, a larger-than-life pioneer of utopian architecture in 1960s Brazil who could purportedly design a staggering 25 homes a month at the pinnacle of his career.

These days, Thiago’s firm Bernardes Arquitetura channels the joyful spirit of Sergio, combining it with an astute eye for contemporary details, an intimate knowledge of Brazil’s tropical climate, and a strikingly modern vernacular style. This approach makes for some truly breathtaking residential architecture — a case in point being the recently completed Casa Delta, which garnered a well-deserved A+Award in the XL Private House category.

© Leonardo Finotti

© Leonardo Finotti

Situated in a picturesque region on the Atlantic coast, the guest home was commissioned by a couple with three young children who sought a serene weekend retreat that would sit in harmony with the natural beauty of the forest and the ocean. The lower story contains five en suite bedrooms and staff quarters, while the upper floor comprises a luxurious penthouse, complete with open plan living areas, two huge terraces, and a jaw-dropping infinity pool.

Elevated upon a plinth of local stone, the building’s external envelope is defined by a continuous screen of timber louvers, which are built into panels that can be pivoted in response to the sun’s position throughout the day. This passive shading system allows for large expanses of glazing to be incorporated while limiting solar glare, and it helps breaks up the mass of the building, reducing its impact on the surrounding context.

© Leonardo Finotti

© Leonardo Finotti

Bernardes chose a simple palette for construction, harnessing the natural properties of materials and allowing their contrasting textures to be celebrated. Behind with those rich timber façades, rough stone walls are juxtaposed with smooth white finishes — a classic combination that evokes visions of arguably the most celebrated example of residential architecture of all, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

The most prominent feature of the house comes in the form of a dramatically slender timber canopy, an elegant tilted plane that references the sheltering qualities of the surrounding forest. The roof sails over the internal volumes and hovers above the building’s many outdoor terraces, providing shade from the intense heat of the sun and protection from powerful downpours of tropical rain.

The supreme lightness of the roof structure is representative of the building’s design as a whole: slim glazing bars, louvers, and columns all lend a delicate touch to the overriding aesthetic, with multiple verticals echoing the tree trunks sprouting from the steep surrounding terrain.

The boundaries between interior and exterior are blurred to great effect, courtesy of the considered design of the floor-to-ceiling glazing around the penthouse living quarters. Huge, aluminum-framed glass doors can be rolled back along grooves within the polished concrete floor, transforming the entire space into an enormous covered terrace.

© Leonardo Finotti

© Leonardo Finotti

The pièce de résistance of Casa Delta, though, lies beyond its boundaries: The view of the Atlantic Ocean between the trees is simply stunning, and the layout of the house and external terraces addresses this panorama adeptly. Indeed, from certain angles, the infinity pool integrated into the surface of the upper deck appears to merge seamlessly with the ocean itself, encapsulating the original aim of creating an abode that is at one with the surrounding landscape.

© Leonardo Finotti

© Leonardo Finotti

Bernardes Arquitetura has a growing reputation in Brazil for its ability to achieve the firm’s overarching goal to “transform a client’s dreams into livable spaces.” If the recognition of the 2015 A+Awards jury is any indication, Casa Delta may be the most successful manifestation yet of the studio’s ambitious philosophy.

© Iwan Baan

The Palestinian Museum // Heneghan Peng Architects

Bir Zayt

© John Gollings Photography

The Aria // MHN Design Union

Waverley Crescent, Bondi Junction, Australia

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