Designed by Brazilian firm PITTA Arquitetura, the aptly named Casa Modelo serves as an architectural model for sustainable home design. Built using numerous bioclimatic principles, the solar-powered home has minimal environmental impact on its idyllic tropical setting just outside of São Paulo.
Built for the owner of a sustainable real estate development company, Casa Modelo is located in the remote area of Ubatuba. Surrounded by acres of lush, green, protected biospheres that span out to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the home has a setting that is as idyllic as it gets.
The incredible location set the tone for the design. Working with the homeowner, the architects sought to create a model sustainable home that could serve as a platform for future constructions in the area.
At the forefront of the design was the objective of reducing the home’s impact on the pristine natural setting. Inserting the 1,100-square-foot building into the lot with minimal interference was essential to the project. Accordingly, the timber home is elevated off of the landscape by a concrete platform and pillars that allow natural vegetation to grow under and around the structure.
The local climate is marked by severe humidity, ultra hot summers and considerable rainfall, all of which prompted the designers to create a resilient structure that could stand up to the extreme elements. Not only did elevating the home reduce its impact on the landscape, but it also helps keep ground humidity at bay and improves natural air circulation.
Passive, energy-saving features are found throughout the home, namely in the structure’s large openings and high interior ceilings. The open-plan living area and kitchen open up to the outdoors thanks to a long stretch of sliding glass doors with retractable timber screens on either side of the house. The doors can be completely or partially left open to ensure cool temps and natural ventilation on the interior, a feature that also creates a strong, seamless connection with the outdoors.
The layout was also driven by the natural elements. The two bedrooms were orientated to embrace the morning sunlight, while overhangs shade the living spaces from the hot summer sun. In the winter months, sunlight from the large, north-facing windows is absorbed by the concrete walls and floors during the day and released at night.
In addition to its impressive passive features, the home was installed with several systems to minimize energy use. A solar array covers 100 percent of the electrical needs, which are reduced thanks to highly efficient lighting, electrical equipment and smart home devices. Additionally, an innovative rainwater harvesting system provides water for the residents.
Photography by Gustavo Alkmim via PITTA Arquitetura