This Timber-Clad Brazilian Home Is 100% Powered by the Sun
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This Timber-Clad Brazilian Home Is 100% Powered by the Sun

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By Anna Squier
Located on the southeast coast of Brazil in the surfer's paradise of Ubatuba, this sustainably constructed home embraces its lush surroundings.

Designed to inspire local residents to adopt more sustainable living and building practices, Casa Modelo places bioclimatic strategies at the forefront of its design. Local architecture firm PITTA Arquitetura designed the residence for a location selected by homeowner Juan Diego Erhart of BIO Empreedimentos, a sustainable real estate development company. The comfortable and efficient dwelling draws upon natural resources to lighten its environmental footprint.

The timber-clad home is nestled into the lush foliage of the existing landscape.

The timber-clad home is nestled into the lush foliage of the existing landscape.

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The home is set in a humid climate with hot summers and large amounts of rainfall, so the vegetation, sun, precipitation, and wind were all important factors for the architects to address. Elevated above the ground, nestled amidst existing trees and vegetation, the home does not interfere with the existing topography—it embraces it without disturbing it.

The simple material palette of concrete, wood, and steel allows the home to blend in with its surroundings.

The simple material palette of concrete, wood, and steel allows the home to blend in with its surroundings.

A layering of exterior elements—including sliding glass doors, a timber screen, and mobile timber panels—provides flexibility and climate control for the occupants.

A layering of exterior elements—including sliding glass doors, a timber screen, and mobile timber panels—provides flexibility and climate control for the occupants.

The two-bedroom, 1,110-square-foot home is purposefully positioned on the site in alignment with the orientation of the sun. High ceilings and large openings take advantage of the prevailing winds, facilitating natural ventilation. Bedrooms embrace the morning light, while overhangs and foliage protect living spaces from the hot summer sun. In the winter, sunlight from tall north-facing windows falls upon the concrete walls and floors, which absorb heat during the day and release it at night.

PITTA Arquitetura designed the large main living space with flexibility in mind. It is suitable for entertaining, yet cozy enough to serve as a personal retreat.

PITTA Arquitetura designed the large main living space with flexibility in mind. It is suitable for entertaining, yet cozy enough to serve as a personal retreat.

The kitchen extends from inside to outside.  Large sliding doors completely open up the interior living spaces to the exterior deck, which provides additional prep, dining, and cooking spaces.

The kitchen extends from inside to outside. Large sliding doors completely open up the interior living spaces to the exterior deck, which provides additional prep, dining, and cooking spaces.

Large openings on both side of the living spaces facilitate natural ventilation. The home creates the sense of being outdoors while providing shelter from the elements.

Large openings on both side of the living spaces facilitate natural ventilation. The home creates the sense of being outdoors while providing shelter from the elements.

A timber and glass canopy provides protection without diminishing views.

A timber and glass canopy provides protection without diminishing views.

A long veranda with large sliding glass doors acts as an extension of the interior living space.  Wood and metal benches extend the length of the concrete platform, providing seating for enjoying the surroundings.

A long veranda with large sliding glass doors acts as an extension of the interior living space. Wood and metal benches extend the length of the concrete platform, providing seating for enjoying the surroundings.

Embodying a less-is-more approach, the simple material palette of cement, wood, and slate lets the surroundings be the focal point. Large living spaces are designed with flexibility in mind. The plans include the option to construct an adjoined 320-square-foot module with an additional bedroom and bathroom, so the home is can be customized to the occupant's financial and spatial needs.

The floor plan includes an unconstructed building comprising an additional bedroom and bathroom.

The floor plan includes an unconstructed building comprising an additional bedroom and bathroom.

Large openings with mobile timber screens allow for ventilation, views, and privacy.

Large openings with mobile timber screens allow for ventilation, views, and privacy.

The minimal material palette extends into interior living spaces—including the bathrooms.

The minimal material palette extends into interior living spaces—including the bathrooms.

Bedrooms are located in the eastern portion of the plan to receive the sun's morning rays.

Bedrooms are located in the eastern portion of the plan to receive the sun's morning rays.

In addition to the structural form, movable openings, and facade treatment, which embrace the tropical setting, multiple systems help minimize the home's energy and water use. A solar array covers 100% of the home's electrical needs, a rainwater harvesting system provides water, and highly efficient lighting, electrical equipment, and smart home devices help reduce the home's footprint. 

A large overhang protects the interior living spaces from the summer sun.

A large overhang protects the interior living spaces from the summer sun.

A detail shot of the bioclimatic home's timber screen.

A detail shot of the bioclimatic home's timber screen.

The home gently hovers above the landscape.

The home gently hovers above the landscape.

Casa Modelo is a stunning example of sustainable architecture, and a stepping stone in breaking the myth that green construction is expensive and difficult. In contrast, it shows just how attainable and attractive eco design can be.

Related Reading: 9 Eco-Friendly Homes With Smart, Sustainable Features

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: PITTA Arquitetura

Builder / General Contractor: Construtora Wave

Structural Engineer: Obratech