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INTERVIEW: Gustavo Penna on Building the Lincoln Residence in the Highlands of Minas Gerais, Brazil
Inhabitat: How did the environment, neighborhood and culture influence you in this project?
Gustavo: A house is only important when it transcends the physical boundaries of the built area. It has to be like a citadel from which you see the world and fancy nature. It’s a place to live in, where you walk alongside the memories. That’s the principle of the Lincoln residence. It is located on an absolutely gorgeous spot at the top of a mountain, with a view to a very important water supply for the city. The intention there is to act the same way the body would, to gaze at the surroundings and the landscape. And not only at the “detached” landscape, but also at the sky above. The house’s windows open to the sky and the surroundings.
The weather changes constantly during the day in the highlands of Minas Gerais. It’s cloudy, it’s sunny, it’s rainy. It’s nice to watch the day go by through the house’s glass cube. It exposes you to the elements and shelters and protects you from them at one time.
The plan of the house is not very sophisticated. It echoes the plans of the historical cities and farms of Minas Gerais. When you look at the house externally, you may think it’s hard to be interpreted by the dweller, but it’s the opposite; it’s he who best interprets that space. That gives me great satisfaction.
We didn’t have many materials, only glass and painted brick walls, so the challenge was in joining the glass panels. We solved it simply, with materials, structural silicone glazing, all very well-founded.
Inhabitat: What is the impression you want to leave regarding this project and your whole body of work?
Gustavo: That it’s deep, and yet takes few words. That’s it.
Inhabitat: Tell us more about how a project can change from conception to conclusion.
Gustavo: I try to discuss the project at length before the building stage, so there’s no waste. We have to think of the houses we make as if they’re open locks, so they’re always open for interpretation. After all, families change, people leave and move, families grow bigger or smaller, welcome grandchildren, etc. The house has to have the ability to host the dwellers in so many stages, and that’s what I think I have to keep in mind – always considering the basics, so as not to make mistakes in the details. A house planned from its basic features will last longer, and won’t become obsolete as easily as a “fashionable” house and its “adjective” spaces. I’d rather have a “noun house”.
Inhabitat: How do you balance the artistic and esthetic conceptions of a house with its functional side?
Gustavo: One doesn’t hinder the other, much to the opposite. How rich in poetry is our daily life, isn’t it? The most important thing today in living harmoniously with the planet is to make poetry. If you don’t have it, you shouldn’t even leave the house. Poetry is the attitude you have that helps you in building metaphors of the world and creating symbols of everything. Each gesture has its symbol, each gesture has an ethereal dimension to it.
Alex Levin is a writer for Tsurumi and Granite Transformations, a remodeling company dedicated to advancing green remodeling practices by finding new ways to recycle and reduce waste such as making granite countertops that require less material to produce and can be installed without demolition.
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