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Home with Stepped Architecture Takes Advantage of the Sloped Site

Casa Santo Antonio, located in Santo Antonio do Pinhal, Brazil was designed by to take advantage of the sloped site by layering the house in 3 stepped tiers, with the top or first stage being the main social area and the lowest or 3rd stage being an office area. By layering the house in 3 successive stages the architects where also able to save several large trees and contain them within a large inner courtyard.

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The first level is built with light metal profiles, plywood and glass, allowing the home to be flooded with natural light and exposed to incredible views of the Sierra de Mantiqueira forest reserve.

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The trees within the courtyard are part of the surrounding forest and subsequently help blend the house into the surrounding habitat.

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The two lower levels are more contained than the upper level and incorporate large sections of concrete in their construction.

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A wide driveway leads up to the main entrance on the upper level and even though this section of the home is wrapped in floor to ceiling glazings, a concrete privacy wall was erected next to the main door.

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Above the concrete privacy wall is a row of clerestory windows creating the effect of a floating roof.

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The exposed steel skeleton of the upper level holds the roof in place as it extends out and over the entryway.

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The sections of concrete used on the upper level tie it visually to the two lower tiers.

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Inside the upper level, the social zone is laid out with the living room nearest the door and the kitchen and dining room next to it, with the dining area over looking the courtyard and the views.

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As the kitchen is positioned on the perimeter wall opposite the courtyard, this wall is mostly concrete with the exception of 2 small windows and a row of clerestory windows that continue the illusion of a floating roof.

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A steep grassy slope creates the illusion of the courtyard being on the same level as the social zone and a living roof on top of the second level continues the effect.

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The living roof starts as a walkway connecting the two levels and it is planted with vines that cascade down into the courtyard, softening the hard lines of the concrete.

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Underneath the walkway is a paved, sheltered area so that even on a rainy day the outdoors is a comfortable place to hang out.

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The walkway features a row of wooden louvers that allow fresh air to pass through while shielding the area from direct sunlight.

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The louvers end at a door that connects the courtyard to the landscape outside the home.

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Inside the courtyard a relaxing afternoon nap can be had via hammocks that are stretched out between steel support beams.

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From the courtyard the social zone is kept semi private due to the elevation change.

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The same cannot be said in reverse with the social zone having a front row seat to the courtyard.

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The courtyard uses the deciduous trees for passive cooling in the summer and sun warmth in the winter.

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The louvered panels in the entry wall, the deciduous trees and the home itself create a micro climate within the courtyard that moderates temperatures and weather conditions.

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Enjoyment of the unadulterated climate can be had via the roof deck over the 2nd level.

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The roof deck can be accessed from both the courtyard and the social zone.

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Below the roof deck is where the master suite and two additional bedrooms are located. Each with their own ensuite, access to the courtyard and access to a terrace created by the roof of the office level below.

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The terrace off of the 3 bedrooms travels the length of the structure.

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The master suite is positioned on one end and features a row of bi-fold shutters detailed with thin voids.

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Social zone, courtyard and roof deck.

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Private zone with the three bedrooms and ensuites and showing the location of a small bathroom tucked between the courtyard’s perimeter wall and stairwell.

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The lowest tier where the office, a bathroom and a lunch room are located.

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Photography by .

Designing an inner courtyard using the natural elements of a site is a great way to tie a home into its surrounding landscape. An amazing cliff house on Quadra Island, BC also used the naturally pooling ground water to create a living water feature within its courtyard.

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