In a bid to save northern Brazil’s rainforests from deforestation and land exploitation, São Paulo-based architecture firm Estudio Flume has recently completed Casa do Mel, a beekeepers workshop that serves as a self-sustainable business alternative to logging operations. Located in the Canaã dos Carajás in the Pará Estate of Brazil, the workshop serves a co-operative of beekeepers formed by 53 rural producers. To reduce site impact, the building follows passive solar principles and incorporates a variety of sustainable strategies such as a bio-digester and a rainwater harvesting system.
Set on a steeply sloped site, Casa do Mel deftly navigates the 23-foot height difference with a concrete slab suspended on piers, a more cost-effective solution to the more conventional ground works approach. Elevating the building also helps to naturally ventilate the interior; the raised double-layered roof (slab and corrugated metal sheeting) and perforated walls made of concrete blocks backed with insect mesh also bring cooling cross-breezes into the workspace. The long roof overhang provides shade and protection from the harsh Brazilian sun.
“The orientation of the Casa do Mel was designed with consideration to the local climate, prioritizing the thermal comfort and natural lighting of the workspace,” the architects explain of the 2,583-square-foot building. “The most permanent premises, such as the container and process rooms for honey, were located facing East to get the early morning sunlight.”
To responsibly handle gray water, the architects planted a circle of banana trees (Circulo de bananeiras) that uses the root system to treat the water and prevent soil contamination. Organic waste is treated in a bio-digester where it is turned into fertilizer and organic compost. The butterfly roof helps facilitate the collection of rainwater, which is used for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets.
Images via Estudio Flume