Modern Architect

Rio House / Olson Kundig

Mabote House / Nicholas Plewman Architects

Away from urban chaos is located the private retreat, Rio House designed by Olson Kundig forming “a secluded hideaway” for its clients.

Text description provided by the architects

This private retreat adjacent to the Tijuca National Park outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a rational steel-and-glass box supported by two concrete piers. The 1,500-square-foot house rises into the rainforest canopy – a secluded hideaway for the owner couple to retreat from the city and connect with the natural landscape.

The home is sited in harmony with the wildness of its tropical jungle setting. Tucked into the juçara palm and cariniana trees, the north end of the home contains a single bedroom while the south end opens to views of city, sea and Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Below, a screened porch and outdoor kitchenette allow the owners to engage the landscape.

Painted, marine-grade stainless structural steel – the home’s primary material – stands up to the humid climate where corrosion is a concern. Manual gizmos on pivot windows and retractable window walls, as well as a solar water heating system, allow the home to function during intermittent power outages. Local construction techniques are incorporated inside and outside the home, from board-formed concrete site walls and colorful plaster interior walls to the Brazilian wood and vermelhão stained concrete floors, a common vernacular tradition.


Architect: Olson Kundig

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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