Away from urban centers and surrounded by a natural landscape, typical from the Brazilian northeast, this house is, ironically, within an urbanized ‘island’ closed condominium, located at about 4 kilometers from the seaside. And as in a giant greenhouse, its streets were named after native birds, alighted in a scenario surrounded by dunes, coconut trees and beaches bathed by a warm sea in the municipality of Camaçari, metropolitan region of Salvador, Bahia.
Typically urban, this house is located in a corner and measures approximately 503 m², having a slight declivity in relation to Sanhaço street, after which the house gets its name. It was constructed as a natural response to the site’s specific conditions: the building fits to the minimum left lateral distance, its shape stretches all along the lot of land and all main openings are oriented towards the southeast, allowing a maximum natural lighting and ventilation mainly from sea breezes.
An opaque and heavy volume rests on elliptic pillar and on a big stone wall. A Portuguese Stones mosaic covers the main structural element that shapes the house. Handcraft work is very common on this region and it aims at rescuing the art of paviors, remnant artisans from the Portuguese colonization period, and still very common in this region of the state of Bahia which specializes in the art of working with stones.
The main structural element was chosen in order to value local labor from the use of commonly found materials at an affordable prize. Such structural element scenically demarcates the entrance, inviting the guest to explore the house’s main space.
The structural conception in reinforced concrete allows few structural supports and distributes its program in two levels. The ground level floor is aligned with the street in front and, as it goes deeper into the plot, it departs from the natural inclination of the land, benefitting even more from natural ventilation. The second floor holds the four rooms and private parlor, facing away from the undesirable west side. That southeast façade allows the house’s main rooms to benefit from the best orientation of the building in relation to the sun, but it does not exclude the need to control excessive luminosity and radiation during the first part of the day in the hottest seasons of the year. Therefore, a big panel acts as a brise soleil with a repetition of a hollow metallic element that protects the interiors from excessive solar lighting. In contrast, the northeast façade is predominantly opaque in order to minimize the sunset sunlight and to guarantee privacy from neighboring plots.
Strategies for sustainability go beyond the implementation of the house in the plot, its solar orientation and seizing predominant winds. Local abundant natural resources are added to the use of building materials and systems. The wide surface that covers the house benefits from high local rainfall indexes, mainly during the fall and winter. Accumulated rainfall is reused for garden irrigation that, in spite of using native species, demand big amounts of water throughout the year. Photovoltaic elements in the roof of the building help in the capture of solar energy and reduce energy consumption from the local electricity power provider.
The design of the roof in a concrete flat slab gives its shape to the houses central volume. The roof is projected in relation to the main façade’s vertical plane to be protected, as a big marquise. Right underneath, the shaded balconies constitute the main collective area for social activities, allowing the residents of the house to interact, a characteristic that has been almost lost in the production of a contemporary single-family architecture. Here, the living rooms, kitchen, swimming pool and superior bedrooms face this single inclusive space with a great transparency that seems to dilate the limits of the plot.