Being one of the world's most vibrant and creative cities, it's only natural that São Paulo is home to amazing architecture. When visiting the city, a diversity of architectural styles are on display ranging from the European inspired Municipal Theatre, to the ground breaking Sesc Pompéia, which saw a former industrial complex converted into a complex of museums, restaurants and concert halls. Sesc Pompéia's concrete towers are a defining visual landmark of São Paulo and, for similar reasons, so too is the project we're to explore today.
Formed as one huge block of concrete, this recently converted retail store stands as an uncompromising display of brutalist architecture. Titled Micasa Volume B, the project was a huge collaborate effort between three design firms: studio MK27, Marcio Kogan and Bruno Gomes and really must be seen to be believed.
Photography by Nelson Kon.
To gain a better understanding of this project, we must first learn of Brazil's built history. Unofficial construction in Brazil’s urban centres has often involved building what are called ’puxadinhos’. These puxadinhos are often illegal extensions made to existing homes using cheap and easily accessible materials, such as wood or scrap metal. These ad-hoc extensions are a solution for low-income families who need more space but don’t have the money to invest in a larger property.
This puxadinho culture has been later adopted by architects all across Brazil as a unique alternative to building renovations. Micasa Volume B takes inspiration from the puxadinho culture as the starting point for its design.
In its own unique way the Micasa Volume B recalls the processes of informal urban construction in Brazil but in a brutalist style. Here we can see that there are a number of different design elements that form together to create something that's completely modern and new. Lit from below, the variable textures of the jagged concrete wall casts a patchwork of shadows on itself, as well as the surrounding features.
Looking more closely, the building’s exterior is finished using exposed, reinforced concrete slabs. Most who utilise concrete as a building material do so with the aim to create a smooth and uniformed appearance. However, the Micasa Volume B's exterior is left unfinished and random, resulting in a jagged and textured look.
A small tunnel connects the entrance of the store to a grand showroom. The interior of the showroom is open plan on a grand scale and was designed to provide a large and dynamic space to house the store’s unique range. It's certainly a dynamic space with its soaring ceilings, polished concrete surfaces and diverse illumination, which really helps those inside feel as if they're somewhere completely out of the ordinary.
To maintain a minimalist aesthetic the offices and consulting rooms are furnished simply with only a handful of pieces. White has been used to coat all the surfaces and that even includes the flooring.
A large window in front of the desk casts shadows that track their way across the wall and floor, intensifying the drama within the setting.
The architects preferred to use only subdued colours for the internal surfaces, using only whites and greys. Deliberate pops of colour have been introduced into the space via a diversity of furniture. Many of the pieces express themselves through bold shapes and exciting colours. The choice of armchair supports this ethos.
Unfortunately this tour comes to an end but don't worry because there are many more fantastic projects to find here on homify. Be sure to look inside a home that uses concrete in dynamic fashion: The Concrete House That Breaks the Rules.