Casa 4×30 by CR2 Architecture + FGMF in Brazil

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Casa 4×30 has been designed by CR2 Architecture in collaboration with FGMF Architects in São Paulo, Brazil. The home was encrusted in a row of narrow geminate houses which presented more of a challenge rather than as an architectural project. How to make the entire program of a house fit in a 4 x 30 meters lot, relying on a few illuminated surfaces. From the tiny Japanese and Dutch houses, the architects borrowed ideas to take advantage of the little space in a creative manner. The proposal was to design a conventional space for the stereotype of a middle-class family in São Paulo and turn to integrated spaces and eliminate others considered “mandatory.”

The occupation of the lot was one of the major factors for the development of the project. The search for natural illumination and ventilation conditioned the emphasis on the central garden, cut in the constructed volume in order to create three facades generously bathed in light. United by a footbridge around the garden, two blocks of different sizes organize the functions of the house and require residents to enjoy the green on all displacements. The larger block focuses the living room and kitchen on the ground floor and the bedrooms upstairs; the smaller one contains supporting environments such as service area, office and vertical circulation of the house.

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That choice has followed the intention of perverting the limits of the garden with retractable glass doors in order to fully integrate the living room with the external space. At this point, a conceptual crossroad: if the living room is opened onto the garden, the only option for the kitchen was facing the facade.

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The tiling panel, of simple design, composes together with the polyurethane resin floor and the aluminum of the box a scenario of great simplicity and whiteness, only broken by the exuberance of the garden, on the one hand, and by the force of the black gable, on the other hand, which protects the interior from being seen from the street, on the opposite side. The obsession for the white color is not purely form, although the search for a simple space was a premise of the start-up: it is, above all, a strategy to reflect light internally, leading it to all points of the house.

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The garden also plays a role in the efficiency of the house. In addition to allowing a permeable area superior to the required by law, the grassy area has a Surinam cherry tree and a bright green wall which cool naturally and create a low pressure zone. The air, cooled, crosses the living room toward the kitchen window, renewing the air and assuring appropriate thermal conditions for most of the year. In the winter, the external screen, which protects the facade from the sunset, can be collected so that the sunlight helps to warm the environment.

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The volume accommodates two suites, accessible by the expanded mesh footbridge that stops to create generous headroom over the entrance passage. In this linear ‘atrium’ and through the expanded mesh footbridge, there is the notion of continuity of the art panel signed by the artist Fabio Flaks. With an intentional prolongation, this panel is presented to the street and defines the entrance of the house, while a discrete glass slab allows the external observer to catch a glimpse of the continuity of the piece of art, which is offered as part of the urban landscape.

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On the box of the bedrooms, a large deck occupies the top floor and creates a new area of enjoyment, framed by a strip of green roof. The solarium provides access for maintenance of air-conditioning and water heating equipment, but is primarily a recreational space that complements the garden on the ground floor. For the couple who lived in an apartment, every square inch outdoors corresponds to a great achievement.

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The materials used are as recyclable as the house itself, which can easily be adapted over time or simply disassembled when needed.

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Photographs: Fran Parente

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