The Panamà home: open and closed on the city

Marcio Kogan,

Nelson Kon,

Sao Paulo, Brazil,

Gallery, Residences,


Cement, Wood, Metal, Glass,


In San Paolo in Brazil, Marcio Kogan has designed a home that is also a gallery for exhibition of the client’s art collection, establishing links between inside and outside which reinterpret Brazil’s heritage of Modernism.

The Panamà home: open and closed on the city

The mild climate and intense cultural life are two reasons to love the Brazilian city of San Paolo.
From the Avenida Paulista business district to the Jardim Paulista, city neighbourhoods are packed with art galleries and exhibition centres.The art collector who commissioned the Panamà home wanted a permanent place to exhibit his artworks. To combine the needs of a home with those of a gallery, architect Marcio Kogan organised the building’s functions to make optimal use of the local climate. A cross-section view reveals the building’s pyramid shape, designed to ensure that even the lower levels receive plenty of natural light. All three levels above ground have glass walls facing south, onto the garden, treed patio and swimming pool, while the other three sides of the home are closed on the outside, with cement walls.
The house’s “eyes” overlook a big patio where a strip of wood widens out in the direction of the ground floor living room, which opens up onto the garden without interruption. While public functions such as the kitchen, dining room and library are located on the ground floor, the first floor contains the more private areas: bathrooms, wardrobes, a home theatre, bedrooms and the owner’s office. All the bedrooms and the master bathroom as well as the free-standing tub overlook the patio, with protection from the strong natural light and views of the outside the windows are fitted with a system of sliding horizontal sunshades, the key element characterising the house. The second and last floor contains a gym and a solarium on the patio. The client’s collection of Brazilian art is kept on the patio and in the entrance area, so that the artworks identify the boundaries between the natural outdoors and the artificial indoors and become architectural signs themselves.

A bronze sculpture by Maria Martins standing over a pool of water next to the library recalls Alfredo Ceschiatti’s “Bathers” installation in President Lula’s residence in Brasilia. Might the imposing cement patios, large glass surfaces mirroring the landscape, continuity between inside and outside and the metaphysical presence of the works of art demonstrate Oscar Niemeyer’s influence on Marcio Kogan’s architecture? For the roots of the country’s architectural identity go back to the Modern Movement in Europe and its transformation when it encountered local Brazilian culture. The importance of the wood in the sunshades represents an innovative element breaking with this tradition.The perennial contradiction between opening onto the landscape at the upper levels and closing off in the walls of the ground floor in the building underlines the sharp contradictions typical of Brazil, particularly apparent to the European visitor in the city of San Paolo.
by Mara Corradi

Design: Marcio Kogan and Samanta Cafardo
Assistant: Renata Furlanetto
Assistants in interior design: Diana Radomysler, Carolina Castroviejo
Client: private
Location: San Paolo (Brazil)
Garden design: Renata Tilli
Structural design: Leão e Associados Engenharia de Estruturas
Construction firm: Fairbanks & Pilnik Engs. Valquíria Freitas and Marcelo Paniagua
Lot size: 1224 m2
Gross useful size: 1237 m2
Start of work: 2006
Completion: 2008
Cement and metal structures
Teak sunshades and internal doors: Plancus Marcenaria
Glass and mirrors: Santa Marian
Living room floor: wood
Custom-designed furniture: Marcenaria Cap
Bathroom fittings: Deca
Taps: Vola
Kitchen: Smeg, Subzero
Glass tiles in swimming pool: Vidrotil
Photographs: Nelson Kon


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