This Architect Couple’s Concrete Home in Brazil Sits Above a Wine Tasting Room
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This Architect Couple’s Concrete Home in Brazil Sits Above a Wine Tasting Room

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By Mandi Keighran
Surrounded by mountainous views, this home seamlessly integrates commercial and residential space through a unified material palette and a breezy open plan.

When young architect couple Marcos Franchini and Nattalia Bom Conselho were looking for an apartment to buy several years ago in Belo Horizonte—the sixth-largest city in Brazil—they were deterred by high property prices. Instead of compromising, they approached Franchini’s parents, who owned an empty block of land nearby the protected natural area of Serra do Curral, and made a deal—the couple would design a home for themselves that featured a commercial space for Franchini’s father to teach wine tasting classes. 

Casa Comiteco is located on a corner site with a steep decline close to the protected Serra do Curral area, which is known for beautiful mountain views.

3D section of Casa Comiteco by Marcos Franchini and Nattalia Bom Conselho showing how the residential space sits on top of the commercial space.

Casa Comiteco, as the home is known, is situated on a steep site, and due to the proximity to a protected area, the footprint had to be relatively minimal. Instead of seeing this as a disadvantage, however, Franchini and Conselho saw it as a possibility to arrange the different functions of the building over two levels, each with their own street entrance. 

The home sits on a sloped site and has two entrances on the street side – one on the upper level to the residence, and one on the lower level to the wine tasting room.

"The idea was to have a residential floor and a commercial floor," says Franchini. "Each floor has its own distinct identity and use." The upper residential floor features a bedroom, open plan living, dining and kitchen space, and a bathroom; while the lower floor, where Franchini’s father teaches night classes three times a week and hosts meetings during the day, can accommodate up to 14 students and has a large wine cellar and a kitchen. 

The open-plan residential floor has been designed so that it can be easily adapted in the future. The joinery between the bedroom and the living space offers privacy without completely separating the two areas.

The residential and commercial spaces are accessed by separate concrete promenades that double as parking garages when needed. These openings in the brutalist concrete street facade cut completely through the building, framing views of the city at the rear. The upper level view is framed by the pergola, which hints at the large balcony that runs the full length of the living space and is the entrance to the home. 

The "promenade" entrance to the lower level commercial space, which is accessed through the door to the left and used as a wine tasting room. The entrance doubles as a parking garage for cars when needed.

The pergola on the "promenade" entrance to the upper level residence frames views of the city and hints at the expansive balcony through which the home is entered.

"The house converses mainly with the view," says Franchini. "The entrance facade is opaque, sober and closed, whereas the rear facade is predominantly transparent and open." 

On the upper residential level, the pergola on the terrace frames expansive views of the city and the sky.

The upper floor terrace is the same width as the living room and kitchen. Large glass doors offer the opportunity to open the living room completely to the terrace. 

The interior space on both levels is almost completely open, with the various living spaces integrated. A bespoke double-sided timber joinery unit—with entertainment cabinet on one side and wardrobe on the other—separates the bedroom and living room, creating a degree of privacy without completely separating the two spaces. "Although we have a fully integrated space, it keeps its singularities," says Franchini. "Each corner of the house is particularly related to a different city view and this fascinates us." 

A bespoke timber joinery unit separates the bedroom from the living space. It has been designed so that it can be easily reconfigured if the need arises for another bedroom in part of the living space.

The view from the bedroom into the living space. The double-sided joinery unit features a wardrobe and storage space.

A major challenge was keeping the project within budget. To do so, the couple utilized industrial style systems for the lighting, which could be quickly assembled on site, and chose affordable, durable materials, such as concrete and ceramic tiles. In wet areas, such as the bathroom and kitchen, the architects used neutral finishes, including glass, marble and white ceramic tiles, that are easy to clean and reflect light into the interior. 

Color and further character is introduced through personal objects displayed throughout. "We believe that objects give life to the environments and tell stories," says Franchini. 

The kitchen features slightly industrial finishes—including concrete, glass and ceramic subway tiles—that are easy to clean and reflect natural light into the space.

The blue and white feature tiles in the bathroom were designed by renowned local architect Éolo Maia and were gifted to the couple by a friend. "We were very happy because we admire Éolo Maia a lot," says Franchini. The bathroom counter is made from Bahia Calacatta marble.

The home has been designed so that it can be easily reconfigured should the couple decide to have children. The in-built timber joinery can be altered to further divide the existing space, or a third floor could be added. The full-length angled skylight above the living area not only introduces a diffused light into the interior, but also creates an opening in the slab where a connecting stair or ladder could be easily introduced if necessary. 

In the living area and kitchen, materials such as concrete and ceramic tiles were chosen for affordability and durability. The angled skylight above the living room provides a void in the slab that could be utilized for a stair or ladder should a third story need to be added in the future.

"We have no children yet, but the spatiality of the house has been thought of with this possibility," says Franchini. "Designing open spaces, with well established infrastructure—such as bathrooms and laundry—without forming barriers for future development of the floors was the key strategy for enabling flexibility." 

The lower level commercial space features workbenches for up to 14 students, a wine cellar, and a kitchen. Marco Franchini’s father runs evening classes here three times weekly.

The lower level commercial space operates as a wine tasting room completely independently from the residence. Although a separate entity, it shares the same durable material palette and functional approach as the upper residential space. 

The yellow perforated metal screens warmly filter light into the commercial space.

A bright yellow brise-soleil system, comprising five large perforated metal screens, protects the lower level interior from the harsh northern sun without obstructing the defining views of the urban landscape. These pivoting screens can be adjusted throughout the day with the sun’s movement. On the upper level, eaves and the pergola protect the northwestern façade. 

A brise-soleil system, comprising five screens on the lower level, deflects the strong sun from the north.

The pivotal screens can be adjusted to adapt to the sun’s angle. As they are made from perforated sheet metal, they do not block views from the wine tasting room.

"In the southern hemisphere, we have to pay close attention to the northern facades as they have the highest solar incidence," says Franchini. "This façade, however, has the best view of the city and neighborhood, so we wanted it to be glazed. It was therefore necessary to create a system that would provide good thermal performance." 

Axonometric sketch of Casa Comiteco by Marcos Franchini and Nattalia Bom Conselho. The home has been designed so that a third floor can easily be added if needed.

"As a couple, flexibility is the element that reassures us about our home," says Franchini. "It is not a static space, but completely open to the changes that we will surely undergo in our lives." 

Watercolor sketch of the living space at Casa Comiteco by Marcos Franchini and Nattalia Bom Conselho.

Ground floor plan of Casa Comiteco by Marcos Franchini and Nattalia Bom Conselho.

First floor plan of Casa Comiteco by Marcos Franchini and Nattalia Bom Conselho.

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This Brilliant Brazilian Abode Was Designed Around an Imposing Tree

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Marcos Franchini & Nattalia Bom Conselho

Builder: MG Construções 

Structural Engineer: N Engenharia 

Landscape Design: Felipe Fontes  

Lighting Design: Zenaide Aparecida 

Interior Design: Marcos Franchini & Nattalia Bom Conselho   

Cabinetry Design: ED Móveis  

Building Performance Consulting: Vert / Luciana Carv 

Electrics and Hydraulics: Guepardo ltda. 

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