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The nature house

concept, project and illustrations by Maíra Zasso and Yorik van Havre,

A modernist house in the grand tradition of Brazilian modernist dream houses, that works in northern hemisphere climates.

Return to the nature

Today we all see that the accelerated industrialization we've been living in during the last decades is going too far. The climate of our planet is suffering dangerously, as well as our own human bodies. We are consuming too much, and relying too much on an endless chain of polluting technologies, each one pretending to solve the problems created by the previous one. Many of us feel the urgent need to escape that cycle, and rediscover a lifestyle more connected to nature and simplicity.

This house places you inside the nature. At any moment, from any point, you see, hear and feel nature around you. A minimum of artificial, and a maximum of natural. It works of course best on large terrains, but can be accommodated on smaller terrains as well, using of a lot of vegetation and playing intelligently with the topography.

Modernist heritage

Modernist architects all over the world, back in the 40s, had a strong understanding of the need for connection between the human being and natural elements such as fresh air and sun, and the delicate balance between built volumes and open spaces. Unfortunately, after the masters vanished, what their descendants and the world remembered of modernism was the aspect, the white, ascetic forms, and forgot about those very fundamental ideas. The next decades, obviously, saw the emergence of strong anti-modernist movements. Today, we are finally able to make peace with our past, and make something new out of these precious, original ideas.

This house doesn't try to be of any style. It tries to offer a simple and direct connection between you and the world around you. This means being able to see, hear or feel the outside, but also touch raw materials, feel their temperature, and their connection to the very earth.

Great climatic behaviour

One of the place in the world where modernist architecture has best survived with its original meaning is Brazil. The perfect climate, that in most of the country renders heating or cooling unnecessary, pushed the flourishing of these marvellous houses, nested in the middle of dense native vegetation, where it is possible to open a large part (if not all) of the glass walls, and let the outside enter the house.

"Here is not Italy, this will never work here" said people when the Copenhagen city architects proposed to create throughout the city a series of cycle routes, open spaces, terraces and places for people to simply sit and enjoy being outside. After these were implemented, not only are they extensively used the whole year round, even under freezing temperatures, but they also changed Copenhagen deeply and turned it one of the cities with the highest life quality worldwide. Today, the pedestrian, car free shopping area Strøget is the Copenhagen postcard. We believe that contact with nature is something we all want, no matter where in the world.

We cannot leave all our windows open the whole year round, like in Brazil, when we live under more northern latitudes, that is true. That doesn't mean we don't like to open them wide, during the time when it is possible. That also doesn't mean we couldn't enjoy that contact under another form, during the winter months.

  1. concrete slab
  2. insulated ceiling
  3. insulated floor
  4. high-performance glass
  5. bamboo shadowing over glass or insulated panels
  6. wooden deck

This house offers large glass walls, that can be widely and wildly opened all around during the summer days, turning the different spaces fully part of the outside, and making you feel like you were in Brazil. During the winter, its state-of-the-art insulation makes it almost a passive house. An outer concrete shell acts as a protective exoskeleton. Inside, an insulated box, literally a box-in-a-box, is totally free of structural elements, which makes it also totally free of thermal bridges, and easy to heat. All this is achieved with good sense, good thinking and simple ideas, rather than heavy technologies. This house simply doesn't need them. And even during harsh winter days, you never loose contact with nature. Visually, thanks to the large windows, but also because raw and simple materials infiltrate inside.

International, open-source design

This house gains from the combined knowledge of a team of Brazilian, European and US architects. We understand the qualities and the unique feeling of these dream brazilian houses and know how they work and what makes them great. We also have a lot of experience working in colder countries, know what makes a good and efficient insulation, and we have over time developed several ideas to make both sides work together.

The design of this house is also fully open-source, which permits a high permeability of ideas. By being used by other people, it also benefits from what other people do, and new cleaver ideas from around the world are easy to adapt and incorporate. We believe this is the ultimate, true meaning that passive and low-consumption housing must achieve, instead of being hostage of a few high-tech solutions.

How much does it cost?

It is unfortunately impossible to give a direct answer to this question. There are too many variables that depend on local conditions, such as the climate, the terrain, which can require deep foundations or not, the availability and price of materials close to the terrain, and of builders able to cope with the raw materials of this house with quality.

However, thanks to the use of BIM technology, a bill of quantities is being elaborated together with the project. This bill lists all the items needed to build the house. With that bill in hands, you will be able to go to the nearest building company or quantity surveyor, and ask to put prices on each item.

The house design can also be heavily modified, without loosing its fundamental qualities. This allows a great deal of space and budget scaling, upwards or downwards.

  1. "public" lounge & dining room: 35.90 m² / 386.5 sqf
  2. kitchen: 8.55 m² / 92 sqf
  3. hall: 28.44 m² / 306 sqf
  4. laundry: 5.41 m² / 58 sqf
  5. lavatory: 2.37 m² / 25.5 sqf
  6. bathroom: 4.78 m² / 51.5 sqf
  7. master bedroom: 11.30 m² / 121.5 sqf
  8. bedroom: 11.30 m² / 121.5 sqf
  9. bedroom: 11.30 m² / 121.5 sqf
  10. bathroom: 3.51 m² / 38 sqf
  11. office: 3.70 m² / 40 sqf
  12. "private" lounge: 26.5 m² / 285 sqf
  13. terrace: 70.69 m² / 761 sqf


A typical brazilian dream house, but buildable in the US and other cold climates.






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