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A Brazilian Architect Builds a Dream Home For Her Parents

When their children moved out in 2015, Neusa Gheno, a retired schoolteacher, and her husband, José Vilmar, a former colonel in the administrative area of the military, embarked on a journey to build their dream home. Having lived for three decades in Curitiba, Brazil, the couple chose to relocate six hours west, to Pato Branco, a city that José had become enamored with during a short work stint there. To create a space that afforded views of both the city and nearby greenery, they turned to their daughter, architect Barbara Becker, for help.

In southern Brazil, a 3,390-square-foot house designed by Barbara Becker and built by Charrua Construções perches on a slope overlooking the city of Pato Branco.

Situated on a sloped property that descends from the street, their new house appears to hover over the terrain on tall concrete columns. “The suspended volume reveals the backyard from the street,” says Becker. The garden, which is irrigated by a rainwater-catchment system, is planted with drought-tolerant species. “I can smell the Jasmim-dos-poetas all over the house,” says Neusa.

Sliding Superia Sistema doors peel away to expose the main living space to a wraparound balcony. A pendant by Newline hangs above the dining room table. 

The structure was built using cast-in-place concrete and brick masonry, common construction methods in Brazil that helped keep costs within the $250,000 budget. “The only unusual technique was the wood-textured concrete ceiling in the main room,” says Becker, referring to the wood-board impressions that were left by the formwork after it was disassembled and the concrete slab dried. 

“It’s very common in Brazil to build out of concrete. We have a long history with it, as you can see in all the Niemeyer buildings.” Barbara Becker, architect

A red Cloche pendant by Newline complements the Fabrica de Mosaicos tile in the entryway. 

Furniture, rather than walls, divides the main living area. “A combined open space was necessary for contemplating the city view and the sunset,” says José.

A different pattern by Fabrica de Mosaicos covers the floor in the dining area. Adding texture, the concrete ceiling slab bears the imprint of the wood formwork used to create it. Next to the dining table is an enameled black-and-gold cast-iron Venax stove.

The home represents a new chapter for Neusa and José, providing a place to cook and relax with friends as they begin their retirement years. As Becker puts it, “With their children already grown up, their priorities are the pleasures in life.” 

Such wood-burning stoves like the cast-iron Venax are popular in Brazil, particularly in the countryside. 

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