Jungle House in Brazil Throws Open The Doors to Nature

The Jungle House designed by Studio MK27 appears to grow out from the side of the mountain.

A mountainous topography and dense vegetation didn’t put off the team behind the design of this house in Guaruja, Brazil.

Rather it inspired a highly innovative architectural response from the architects at Studio MK27, who have named the project the Jungle House.

The house is one of 17 around the world that have been shortlisted for the World Architectural Festival House of the Year Award, and it’s easy to see why it caught the eye of the judges.

Huge spans enhance the spacious, floating feel of the top living deck.

Architect Marcio Kogan and co-architect Samanta Cafardo chose to celebrate the landscape with an elevated building platform that allows a close connection with nature, and views to the coast. The position of the house also makes good use of a less dense area of vegetation on the site, and maximises the sunlight.

The architects say the main volume of the house seems to be built into the topography, projecting itself out from the mountain.

The lower deck provides a sheltered, shady space for the children to play.

“The contact elements between the slope and the construction – for example the wooden decks – were shaped to respect the existing land, thereby creating an organic interaction between nature and the architectural elements. Where the house comes out from the mountain, the structure touches the ground with only two pillars.”

The three floors of Jungle House create a clear programmatic division for the project: the ground floor houses a large covered wooden deck, connected to a small room for the children; on the first floor there are six bedrooms – five of them with small verandas with hammocks – and a tv room; the third and last floor is the social area of the house. This includes a living room, kitchen and an infinity swimming pool on the deck.

It’s a vertical organisation that’s the reverse of the normal arrangement, whereby bedrooms are on the top floor of a house.

The house retains a close connection with the immediate landscape on all levels.

The layout also heightens a sense of anticipation. The entry to the house is from the lower deck, where stairs appear to “interrupt” the concrete slab to enter the main part of the building.

“Before entering the closed space, one passes through an intermediary space, enveloped by concrete, and which houses a luminous work by the artist Olafur Eliasson,” a spokesperson says.

And once on the upper levels, one is literally living within the tree canopy – the treetops are aligned with the upper terrace.

Exposed concrete and timber features both outside and inside. The bedrooms have wooden sunscreens – small brises-soleil mounted as folding doors that can be manipulated by the users according to the weather. And the modern architecture, with its clean-lined, spacious, airy living spaces, is a perfect complement to the tropical environment.

The living room is 27cm lower than the deck – this allows a good height in the living room, but doesn’t compromise the strong horizontal architectural form.

The infinity pool is positioned so it appears from the living area as a seamless part of the view. With the living room 27cm lower than the timber deck, the height of the roof could remain at a lower level, which ensures the strong horizontal elements of the architecture are not compromised.

“This floor offers a spatial sensation which synthesises the principles of the house. On one side, there is a deck which houses the hot tub and the sauna – where there is an intense relation between the architecture and the mountain and its vegetation; on the other side, a ground fireplace and the pool. In the centre between these two free spaces is the living room that is open to both sides, which allows good cross-ventilation. This social space has a radical relation with nature, by means of both the view of the ocean as well as the proximity to the forest in the mountain.

The Studio MK27 team also included Diana Radomysler (interiors), Carlos Costa, Eline Ostyn, Laura Guedes, Mariana Ruzante, Mariana Sima,. Oswaldo Pessano and Fernanda Neiva.
Landscape designer: Isabel Duprat
Structural engineer: Leão Associados – engineer João Rubens Leão
MEP: Grau Engenharia
Air conditioning: Newest
Contractor: Eng. Rogerio Biral

​The House of the Year Award will be announced in Berlin in November.