Sao Paulo-based architecture studio Atelier Marko Brajovic designed a strikingly beautiful house in the middle of a forest in Paraty, Brazil, taking inspiration from the verticality of the trees to connect with the natural environs.

Casa Macaco or Monkey House is a vertical structure standing on thin pillars, following the growth of the trees skywards. Relating the back story, Atelier Marko Brajovic said that the monkeys that used to live at the foot of Serra in Paraty suddenly disappeared. Their disappearance was attributed to the yellow fever that supposedly spread among the primate families.

However, at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic when the architectural team began the design process for the house, a family of capuchin monkeys reappeared.

“They came back, and taught us the way of why, where and how to design our project. Monkey House was inspired by the verticality of the forest, in the possibility of approaching the crests of the trees, in a gentle and subtle way, connecting with its countless inhabitants of the kingdom of flora and fauna,” the studio explained.

Monkey House

Photo: Rafael Medeiros

Consisting of interlocking wooden components of the same profile, covered by galvalume skin and thermoacoustic insulation, the Monkey House was assembled in a secondary forest, installed between trees on an area covering 5m x 6m, minimising the impact on the native vegetation.

The studio looked to Nature for the best design solutions. For instance, to design the support structure of the Monkey House, the architects looked for plants that were best adapted to the topography of the land. Nature also taught them the strategies to be adopted to allow stability in the vertical growth.

“The Juçara or Içara (Euterpe edulis) in Tupi is an endemic palm of the Atlantic Forest, which is structured through anchor roots, adapting itself to the sloping terrain and distributing the dynamic efforts over multiple vectors ensuring stability for the thin and very tall stem,” the studio elaborated.

The same strategy was applied for the Monkey House project by creating a series of thin and dense pillars, inspired by the adventist morphology of the roots of the Juçara palm, thus ensuring stability of the vertical construction.

The Monkey House comprises of two bedrooms, which can be transformed into living rooms, in addition to a kitchen and bathroom. Two side terraces facilitate cross-ventilation while a generous space on the top floor creates a multifunctional environment for physical activities, study and meditation, and also serves as an observatory. The compact 86-square-metre house has 54 square metres of internal area and 32 square metres of covered spaces, providing a very strong connection with the natural context of the forest.

According to the architects, Monkey House opens in all directions, thanks to internal side terraces and the balcony on the top floor, thus providing natural ventilation and covered outdoor spaces.

The interiors feature handmade bamboo finishes, curtains made with fishing net from local communities, and furniture combining Japanese design objects with indigenous Guarani handicrafts; all metalwork has been sourced from Docol and Mekal's professional and signed lines.

“The landscaping project is simply the reforestation of the secondary forest where the house is located. The wild aesthetic surrounding the house was possible by driving the natural growth of the same endemic plants from the surroundings, thus reinforcing the experience of the house being immersed in an original natural context,” Atelier Marko Brajovic noted.

Photography: Rafael Medeiros, Gustavo Uemura