The latest project from São Paolo based design studio Arthur Casas, Casa (house) AL is another perfect example of the team’s intimate connection to horizontal scale. Built in Joa, in the hills outside of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the three-floor home is fully integrated with its natural surroundings due to the choice of materials. But best of all, it has a very unexpected ocean view that is second to none.
Casa AL, the home of Brazilian television host and entrepreneur Alex Lerner, is a secluded paradise that gives its owner the impression of being on holiday year-around. Lerner, who was originally looking to buy a penthouse apartment in Rio, just couldn’t find the home of his dreams on the market – so he decided to build it from scratch together with architect and designer Arthur Casas of the eponymous studio.
Lerner, who is very particular about cleanliness (he has four vacuum cleaners for instance) as well as extremely demanding, even left his day job in order to be better able to surpervise the construction of his house. In keeping with the homeowner’s love of the pristine, the house’s sweeping, very neat lines and sparse interiors are very satisfactory indeed.
Inside, the house is indeed as close to perfection as it gets – all 5,200 square feet of it. Each of the three floors has a self-contained ambiance: with the ground floor comprising living quarters for the gardener and maid as well as two guestrooms, the third floor the owner’s main bedroom and office, while the second floor, which opens out onto the pool deck and a magnificent ocean view, also houses’ the entrance. As Casas himself comments on the layout: ''There are times when this view is just breathtaking, so the living areas needed to be all aligned to make the most of that. These enormous spans enhance the sensation of the residence’s scale; however, as a rule, our designs have the same dimensions of a conventional building...''
The fluid design aside, the crown jewel of the project IS the view, a view that wasn’t surprisingly enough, a given as the sloping plot that the house is built on didn’t actually have a view to start with (added to the fact that a building obstructed the view that could have been). Arthur Casas confidently rose to the challenge through raising the house above the building, in turn giving his client the most wonderful outlook onto the sea. The solution? Elevating the entrance, living and recreational areas, as well as the swimming pool, to the second floor. And the result? The ocean which now paints the building’s enormous glass walls with its changing colours, ebbs and flows, thus further emphasising the house’s connection to nature. Other details that bridge the indoors with the outdoors include large glass panels in the living room which can slide back into the walls so the living area and terrace become one space.
Upon the owner’s request, stone, wood and glass have been used throughout. The stone, sourced from the neighbouring state of Minas Gerais, is worked in such a way that the final impact is bright and light despite the stone’s natural heavy state. As well as stone, Cumaru, which is an extremely resistant Brazilian teak, has also been used throughout - including the pool deck. Easy to maintain, this is a wood that is set to look immaculate in the years to come. Arthur Casas also oversaw the interior design which is slick and sparse but comfortable where warm natural materials and tones enhance the space’s fluid lines interspersed with Brazilian style furniture mixed with handpicked pieces sourced from abroad. In keeping with the practical nature of the outdoor decking, much of the furniture covers can be removed and washed – a matter of key importance for Mr. Lerner’s strict cleanliness standards, and another facet of the house that adds to the fact that it will continue to be in pristine condition for years to come.