A top of a hill in the town of Ribeirão Preto, a few kilometers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Perkins & Will have designed a standout residence for a family of four. Standout, in its architecture, with a constant link between the interior and exterior. It’s a glass and raw concrete structure, warmed up by the use of wood. It’s a modern, luxurious refuge from urban city life. A cozy family space, within a modern embrace, much like many country homes. 

Ribeirão Preto Residence by Perkins and Will - Sheet1
Residence at golden hour, on the hill_Finotti L. (2018).

Built on a sprawling 12000 sq. meters of land, the design is conceptualized as a large garden holding two large volumes. It is one of the few residence designs taken up by the architects in Brazil. Completed in 2018, it still stands as a design influence in the sphere of biophilic design post the pandemic

Ribeirão Preto Residence by Perkins and Will - Sheet2
Pools, as it juts out_Finotti L. (2018).

Inspiration & Intent | Ribeirão Preto

The idea that inspired this home, is the family’s passion for art. A home designed as a canvas to display & enjoy their art collection. The house brief included a connection to nature. One that seamlessly added elements of green into the space. The challenge, however, lay in making a single-storey structure, on the sloped terrain of Ribeirao Preto. This was born out of the intent to respect the countryside of Brazil as much as possible. 

The earthy material palette also reflects this sensitivity. The monolithic concrete structure, laced with woody accents, transparent black framed glass, and finally wrapped in lush greens. The design ensures a connection with nature in every function of the home because this creates well-being and quality of life for the residents. Retractable glass windows open into these greens. The landscape, thus, weaves the structure back into its context. The architectural style, however, is very contrasting. A tropical modernist home, a composition of cuboidal volumes and rectangular frames. 


It mushrooms as two key volumes – the social and private. The two orthogonally come together to form an L-shaped layout. A smart building design strategy to tame the gentle slope at the site. It creates an interplay between the uses and the context. Again, the sanctity of the site is acknowledged and respected, by not cutting through the slope but rather building with it. 

The social block, shields the more private one, by resting atop it. Scenic views of the valley are consciously crafted from this structure. You enter the structure at this level, into the public or more common programs. The kitchen & dining area form the central sphere, flanked by the bar, the gym, and a home theatre. 

The private block, almost cocooned under the social volume, is built with a deep sense of comfort. It serves and living area, with bedrooms and ensuites. While it is made to feel very private and relaxing, all rooms have their breakouts into gardens and nature. Systematic & strategic use of wooden screens is seen in this part of the house. It adds warmth within with an underlying sense of privacy. The roof becomes a terrace for the upper floor. 

A metal and wood internal staircase connect the two volumes on the inside. It is supported by a concrete hollow brick wall. 

There is a third and distinct volume, that of the pool, cantilevered out, to create a balance. It is eye-catching, through the dichotomy of exposed concrete and lush plants. A huge mass of concrete, it almost looks floating. Engulfed by shrubs on three sides, and water reflecting the sky, it looks like an oasis in the wilderness. Concrete steps, dotted with grass, follow down from the pool into a garden. These are built along the slope, connecting the two levels from the outside. 

Concrete stairs, engulfed in plantation_Finotti L. (2018).

Features | Ribeirão Preto

Interiors too are planned with a masterful eye. Throughout the house, Perkins & Will, have used blank walls as a gallery to showcase the expansive art collection of the residents. The bare and simple materials and finishes also work to highlight the artwork. The use of louvers, pergolas, and screens also creates an interesting play of shade and shadow within the structure. 

The area is warm, around most of the year. The form, adds elements of self-shading, hence avoiding direct sunlight into the lower volume. The wooden screen isn’t only aesthetic but also To thermally maintain the interiors the green roof is a big advantage. Rodrigo Oliveira, the landscape artist has used local plant species in abundance. The plant palette includes species like ferns, palm trees, monsters, and other exuberant tropical shrubs.  

This house is a conscious attempt at biophilic design from Perkins & Will. Starting with the cantilevered green roof, which blends the home into the hillside landscape, serving purpose and aesthetics. Followed closely by the large opening into the patio overlooking the hillside. The house is a balance between nature and construction. The entire structure seems to have blurred boundaries, connecting it to the nature around it. It sums up to be a dramatic take on contemporary luxury homes by Perkins & Will.