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Casa dos Terraços Circulares

Denis Joelsons

Cotia, São Paulo, Brazil

May 2022


Denis Joelsons (Architect)


Ita Construtora (Wooden Structure), Bizarri Pedras (Stone masonry execution), Caio Martinez Bueno (Contractor)


Francisco André Buny and Regiane Buny


Pedro Kok


The garden and the house were conceived together, combining construction and landscape in a gesture that permeates the work. The house features orthogonal geometry, compatible with its prefabricated wooden structure. Similar to the tree’s configuration, the house's structure branches out from the pillars, doubling the frequency of openings in the tall windows and again in the roof rafters. Finishes are stratified, with a ceramic floor boasting a dark tone reminiscent of the earth. Up to a certain height, the walls are painted in a terracotta that contrasts with the green of the woods. Further up above, where there is no glass, the walls are white. As the house ascends from the ground, it becomes brighter, culminating in the translucent wired glass membrane marking its entrance facade.
The garden's curvilinear geometry seeks the optimal structural form for constructing retaining walls while simultaneously fostering integration with the existing trees. The design of the terraces is meticulously balanced, ensuring no loss or gain of soil volume. These terraces protect the ground from erosion, safeguarding the trees and their roots.
Flows are organized along two circulation axes, one external and the other within the house, ensuring that all spaces have at least two accesses, reinforcing the concept of a circular path. The ascent to the roof occurs through the overlapping of stairs in a spiral motion. The house's formal containment contrasts with the circular terraces' dynamic profile, suggesting a reversal of the traditional subservient relationship between the base and the building.


The House of the Circular Terraces is situated in a valley on the lot’s western limit. This location allows for the preservation of 88% of the Atlantic forest’s native trees and the creation of a generous set of circular terraces, perceived as a plaza from both the corner and the main street. When observed from the house, the space defined by the canopies of the trees is seen as a landscape traversed by the morning sun. A dead-end street with little traffic provides access to the garage. The low stone boundary wall respects the original characteristics of this garden city development carried out by the City company in the fifties.
Intermediate-level terraces were established to work with the natural slope of the terrain and existing clearings. The house itself is organized on these plateaus, with communal spaces near the entrance, closer to the street, and private rooms farther towards the property line, as depicted in its longitudinal section. While the roof is designed as a continuous and leveled line on the horizon, the floor surfaces conform to different layers on the ground, configuring a series of dynamic spaces with varied ceiling heights. A suspended balcony covers the garage, and at the other end of the house, this space is mirrored in the bedrooms, forming a layout in which the built space echoes the valley’s geography.


The house was initially conceived as a summer residence. Once completed, the owners decided to rent out their apartment in São Paulo and permanently move into the new house. The social spaces of the house, integrated with the garden, are used to accommodate large groups for parties and social events. Taking advantage of the terraces' slope, a screen was set up at night, for outdoor movie screenings with neighbors and friends. The client, who is a photographer, periodically rents the house as a location for advertising campaigns, with crews of up to 90 people. During these occasions, catering is set up in the garage, and shooting take place in the garden, kitchen, rooftop, and covered balcony.
The translucent facade ensures privacy for the balcony, which, due to its south orientation, is always backlit by the sun that passes through the pergola, creating an intriguing effect. The white slats return the filtered and reflected light to the kitchen and the house’s interior. The bedroom windows, in particular, were designed with built-in mosquito screens on all openings. In addition to the sliding doors leading to the balcony, each bedroom features a wooden shutter aligned with the bed's headboard and a glass louver aligned with the desk. Wooden shutters provide cross ventilation on hot days, bringing a fresh breeze to the beds. On colder days, the glass louver allows for air exchange without crossing the bed area.

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