Marko Brajovic firmly believes that the best design solutions are found in nature. For a long time, the São Paulo based architect had dreamed of building “a house that connects to the magnitude of the trees,” deep in the Brazilian rainforest.

Last year, he began building that forest house, while living in isolation and reflecting on life, resilience and the interconnectedness of all things. Away from the hustle and bustle of ‘normality’, he saw in the quiet of lockdown “a chance to redesign how we work, learn, teach, cook, eat, train, heal, create, and relate to each other.” After almost a year of construction, the project has now been completed.

Named Casa Macaco (Monkey House), the striking wooden structure is located in the small town of Paraty, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Part observatory, part family home, the project is directly inspired by the the flora and fauna found in the area. “In order to design the support structure of the Monkey House, we observed which plants were best adapted to the topography of the land,” states Brajovic. Together with his team at Atelier Marko Brajovic, he found that the Juçara, an endemic palm of the Atlantic Forest with a very tall, thin stem, was an especially useful model to learn from. “For the Monkey House we implemented the same strategy, creating a series of thin and dense pillars, inspired by the morphology of the roots of the Juçara palm, thus ensuring stability of the vertical construction.”

This sense of respect for nature continues inside. The interiors are designed using handmade bamboo production finishes, with curtains made out of fishing nets from local communities. The custom furniture combines design objects with indigenous Guarani handicrafts.

Viewed from afar, the Monkey House is compact, occupying an area of just 5m x 6m. Still it feels spacious, opening in all directions, thanks to internal side terraces and the balcony on the top floor, which provides natural ventilation. Brajovic hopes that in these ways, the house becomes “a place of encounter and reunion with yourself and other species, to observe Nature outside and inside us, where everything is in everything.” A dream, indeed.

Last year, Marko Brajovic shared an opinion piece on life during the pandemic on the WDCD blog. Read it here.



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