"We see it as low-tech eco-efficiency, where it has the greatest impact, the concept of the architectural design. Our practice, luckily in agreement with our client, understand the idea of a tropical beach house as a means to enhance the interaction between man and nature, trying whenever possible not to separate them completely."--Architectural firm, Mareines + Patalano Arquitetura, describing the Leaf House
Mareines + Patalano were inspired by Brazil’s Indian architecture, which is perfectly suited for the hot and humid climate where the Leaf House stands, in Angra dos Reis, an hour south of Rio de Janeiro. The roof acts as a big leaf that protects the interiors from the hot sun.
But the most important spaces are the so-called "in-between" or open spaces that represent the essence of the design. These are the social areas, where the the owner of the house and his guests spend most of their time. The very generous heights of these spaces, which varies from 10 to thirty feet, allows the trade winds to pass perfectly longitudinally through the building, providing natural ventilation and and passive cooling in both the enclosed and open spaces.
There are no corridors in the home, and the inside and outside spaces become one. Many sliding doors, most glazed, open up the enclosed spaces and let the sea breeze in. The landscape is everywhere on the ground floor, and the even the curvy swimming pool--which mimics the leaf shape--snakes into the house.
As the pool passes below the formal dining room, it turns into a pond with aquatic plants and fishes, before it reaches the rear “veranda”, a resting space with five Brazil’s indians’ style hammocks. Mareines + Patalano Arquitetura call this space “The Brazilian lounge”.
The roof structure is made of laminated reforestation eucalyptus, capable of crossing spans of up to 65 feet. The roof is covered in small reforestation pinus taeda wood tiles, that easily adapt to the complexes surfaces of it. The roof is also designed to collect rainwater via a central steel column that is reused in both the gardens and the toilets.
All surfaces finishes, with the exception of glass and pre-oxidized copper, are natural: the grey tiles were made from stones found on-site, as were the bamboo meshes. All the wood is local wood from remanagement forests, and some of the flooring is crafted of reused wood from old electricity posts.
Like a leaf, the use of all these natural materials, the transparency of the glass, the neutrality of the oxidized copper, create a virtual green house, with the landscape left mostly natural. The house actually belongs to the site.