Architect Marko Brajovic was very conscious of his footprint while building a family retreat outside Paraty, 175 miles from his home in São Paulo. The secondary forest near Serra da Bocaina National Park, a biodiverse ecosystem known for tall, reed-thin palms that anchor themselves in the sloping hillsides, is just coming back from deforestation.
And with the forest have come the monkey populations – capuchin monkeys that swing in the tree canopy. It’s no wonder Brajovic, founder of Atelier Marko Brajovic, wanted to get as close to them as possible.
Brajovic’s design took cues from the natural setting. Because he says, the ‘forest perception’ is vertical, the horizon is inverted. ‘The flow of energy, matter and information of the growth of trees lead us in the search for energy and sunlight.’ Thus he designed an A-frame house with an acute pencil-shaped angle that rises upward into the treetops with very little girth.
Brajovic called it Monkey House. To ensure its vertical stability, he constructed it with a series of thin but dense pillars secured deep in the earth like the roots of the Juçara palm. The interlocking wooden components, coated in a skin of zinc, aluminium and silicon, were assembled between the trees, avoiding interference in the native vegetation. They take up only five metres on one side and six metres on the other – together the internal areas are 54 sq m and the open, covered terraces are just over half that.
The wider, lower storey incorporates two bedrooms with handmade metal doors, curtains crafted from fishing nets and side terraces for cross-ventilation. Brajovic has decorated with bamboo furnishings and indigenous Guarani handicrafts. A generous terrace on the top floor makes the space seem more observatory than a holiday home.
The landscaping, says Brajovic, ‘is simply the reforestation. The wild aesthetic was possible by driving natural growth of the plants, reinforcing the experience of being immersed in a natural context.’
When the family isn’t staying, Monkey House is available to hire on Airbnb for $150 per night.