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Step inside Residência AB: Where minimalist design meets tropical retreat

Step inside Residência AB: Where minimalist design meets tropical retreat

Despite its grand proportions, this chic Brazilian holiday home sits lightly on the land and connects effortlessly to fabulous views from every angle, writes Joanna Tovia.

Perched on a tiny island in Angra dos Reis, just west of Rio de Janeiro, this spectacular retreat is encased in glass to welcome inside the tropical foliage on one side and views of the South Atlantic Ocean and undulating Brazilian coastline on the other.

The 935-square-metre home is the only residence on the island, and has been designed to offer its owners a true escape from the harried pace of Rio life.

Given its proximity to the sea, the team of architects from Jacobsen Arquitetura had to adhere to strict environmental standards during the design. There were limits on the building’s height, how much of the site it could cover and the extent to which the island’s topography could be altered during construction.

“To this end, we developed several conceptual studies with different geometries and topographical approaches,” says architect Paulo Jacobsen.

The finished house, which took five years to design and build, more than meets the owners’ brief. They requested that the interiors connect with the island’s stunning natural surrounds, and that the architects create a tranquil hideaway for relaxation and gathering with family and friends.

The two-storey glass-and-timber structure incorporates wide overhangs on both levels to provide shade for the upper-level bedrooms and for the expansive verandah below. The home, known as Residência AB, can be accessed on either of the two levels.

Famed Brazilian interior designer Sig Bergamin took charge of the decorating. Bergamin is not known for his minimalist style (“I’m maxi, maxi, maxi!” he has said), but a restrained approach was required with this house to allow the textures and tones of the natural building materials to shine through, and to make the most of the home’s coastal views.

Come nightfall, thoughtful lighting allows the owners to fully control the mood, including the artfully designed timber pendant illuminating the 14-seat dining table.

Timber-lined ceilings add a geometric dimension to the house, while rustic stone walls on the lower level add an earthy, organic warmth.

Timber and stone soften the contemporary design at Residência AB
Residência AB pool area

Juxtaposed against the textural features, however, are large expanses of polished concrete tiles, walls of glass and a minimalist stairway with glass balustrade leading from the open-plan living areas downstairs to the more private areas upstairs.

Bergamin and his creative team chose the chic decor and furnishings carefully, with negative space used abundantly to give the contemporary home an airy and relaxed feel.

Floor-to-ceiling stacker doors connect the lounge, dining and kitchen to the outdoor living spaces, where sun loungers give the pool deck a resort-style look and feel.

“The transparent façades ensure those dwelling in the house can interact with nature, and minimise the visual impact of the home on the natural landscape,” Jacobsen says.

Prefabricated wood, steel and glass panels were chosen not just for their good looks, but also to solve the challenges posed by building on an island (and cleaning up once the house was completed).

The result is a very private and exclusive island retreat in perfect harmony with its tropical setting.

This article originally appeared in volume 33 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

Images by Leonardo Finotti/Rafael Kamogawa

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