The new Groenlândia space by French/Brazilian studio Triptyque revolves around the theme of gravity and its opposite, lightness, offering new definitions of key themes in architecture.
The Jardins district of San Paolo, Brazil, is an incredible green lung in the middle of one of the planet’s most polluted mega-cities. This is where San Paolo high society lives, in a district characterised by wealthy modern homes behind tall walls. Rua Groenlândia is one of these streets, and on the former site of a home, Triptyque has designed a shopping centre named after the street. This is one of the meanings of Groenlândia, but not the only one: the architects drew their inspiration from the name to come up with a story for the place. Groenlândia, meaning green land, because the building is surrounded by a garden of Jacaranda trees, which grow well in South America, in the shade of palm trees up to ten metres high.
The theme of light is very important in the project, guiding its compositional definition. The strong light of the San Paolo summer is mitigated by the organic shape of a building made up of terraces and overhangs: the rectangular volume with its marble cladding, standing out majestically, like a block cut from solid stone, must be seen from all points of view to appreciate the harmony of its overhangs and hollows, alternating areas with direct and reflected light. This is the dance between gravity and lightness mentioned at the beginning of this article, most successfully expressed in the roof. Jutting out by fully 9 metres, the 300 sqm roof slab seems to rest on air, supported by nothing more than a continuous wall of glass surrounding the building on all four sides. In actual fact it rests on a concrete block in the middle of the building, running its full height and containing service areas and the open staircase that connects the three levels - ground floor, first floor and rooftop patio. The first floor enjoys good natural lighting thanks to the sun indirectly shining in through the glass and the skylights that break up the shade of the roof.
Brazilian architecture still centres around the use of concrete, but its brutalist expressionism has been mitigated considerably by design solutions that dematerialise the impact of the bare material. This is the reason for use of white cladding, which seems almost transparent in the bright Brazilian sunlight, with the shadows of the tall trees in the garden falling on it. The three windows with marble sunbreaks and the big patios overlooking the garden empty out the block of concrete and white marble (an iceberg: another association with the name Groenlândia), leaving only the outlines of a transparent, lightweight glass skeleton.
Without walls, with the garden as its only boundary, and with this system of outward-facing patios, Groenlândia brings together public and private space to create a form of semi-public architecture that fits perfectly into the city around it.
Design: Triptyque (Greg Bousquet, Carolina Bueno, Guillaume Sibaud and Olivier Raffaelli)
Project leaders: Pedro de Mattos Ferraz and Paulo Adolfo Martins
Project team: Murillo Fantinati, Luísa Vicentini, Priscila Mansur, Priscila Fialho, Natallia Shimora, Gabriele Falconi, Nely Silveira, Alfredo Luvison, Danilo Bassani, Thiago Bicas
Location: Rua Groenlândia, 1157, Jardins, São Paulo (Brazil)
Landscape design: Bia Abreu and Triptyque
Built surface: 993 sqm
Lot size: 290 sqm
Project start: 2010
Completion of work: 2014
Concrete roof with wooden patio
Plastered internal walls
Photos: © Pedro Kok