Brazil isn’t all about beaches and biki­nis. Amid the grey bus­tle of São Paulo is this plant-filled apart­ment, de­signed to bring a breath of fresh air to its owner

Inside Out (Australia) - - Contents - WORDS KATHER­INE CHATFIELD

Set amid the ur­ban me­trop­o­lis of São Paulo, this apart­ment has been trans­formed into a sun-filled green oa­sis

When Rafael, the owner of this apart­ment, asked ar­chi­tects Regina Strumpf and Rogério Gurgel of RSRG Arquite­tos to give his home a facelift, they were charged with mak­ing it feel like a light, spa­cious house rather than a unit in a busy city. “The build­ing’s struc­ture was great, but we had a lim­ited bud­get,” says Rogério. “We de­cided that the most im­por­tant thing to do was knock down in­ter­nal walls to cre­ate an airy open-plan area.”

“Once the walls were torn down, bright in­tense light flooded the apart­ment,” says Regina. “The big win­dow in the mid­dle of the liv­ing space is now the cen­tre­piece, of­fer­ing great views of the neigh­bour­hood.” The free-flow­ing lay­out means the kitchen opens out onto the liv­ing area and study nook, cre­at­ing a multi-pur­pose space, with a laun­dry, bath­room and bed­room be­hind closed doors.

In or­der to cre­ate the il­lu­sion that the apart­ment is set in lush open grounds in­stead of a closed-in block, Rogério wanted to pack the space with as much green­ery as pos­si­ble. He worked with land­scape artist Daniela Ruiz to choose plants that add life and tex­ture to the space, act­ing as an an­ti­dote to the city build­ings that can be seen from the large win­dows around the apart­ment. “We live in a very grey city and the apart­ments here are get­ting smaller and smaller,” says Rogério. “Plants make our homes more vivid and cosy, and they re­con­nect us to na­ture.” Ivy and fid­dle-leaf fig trail the walls and hang from the ceil­ing to give the feel­ing of be­ing nes­tled in a pri­vate gar­den. For­est-green cab­i­netry en­hances the gar­den theme and brings a sense of co­he­sion to the apart­ment.The emer­ald shade is also one of Rogério’s sig­na­ture de­sign el­e­ments. “It’s my favourite colour,” he ad­mits. “I use it wher­ever I can.”

The tight bud­get meant some cre­ative thinking was re­quired when it came to the fi­nal look of each room. In the end, Regina and Rogério de­cided that stripping the build­ing back to ex­pose its bare brick walls and con­crete pil­lars would al­low the apart­ment to re­tain a sense of its his­tory; the mod­ern aes­thetic could be achieved by fur­nish­ing it clev­erly. “I al­ways want to pre­serve a sense of place,” says Rogério. “I like the Bru­tal­ist feel of bare walls. As Rafael has a Baroque taste point, we de­cided to keep the ar­chi­tec­ture min­i­mal so he could fill it with his per­sonal pos­ses­sions.”

In some rooms, parts of the old wall are hung on the ceil­ing to “sug­gest what the build­ing used to look like,” says Rogério. “The par­quetry floors had ter­mites and couldn’t be sal­vaged so they’ve been re­placed in parts by ce­ment tiles. These con­trast well with the pink and green tiles in the ensuite, which give a vin­tage feel.”

Through­out the apart­ment, there are mean­ing­ful nods to Rafael’s life. “The doors were re­placed by vin­tage ones found in the Embu das Artes area, where Rafael’s fam­ily runs a wall­pa­per com­pany,” says Regina. The decor is a mix of old and new; the iron heart-shaped chair in the en­try (pic­tured above) and a chair with bone in­lay fin­ish­ing in the bed­room were gifts from his grand­mother, an an­tique dealer. The tim­ber-and-wicker bed is from a lo­cal flea mar­ket. Images of saints from all over the world, Brazil­ian arte­facts and Bo­li­vian and African sculp­tures are dot­ted around the home. These quirky touches con­trast with clas­sic de­sign pieces such as the Ob­jekto ‘Paulis­tano’ chairs in the liv­ing and din­ing area to make the apart­ment a truly unique place to live.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Regina and Rogério’s work at RSRG Arquite­tos, visit


1. En­try 2. Din­ing area 3. Kitchen 4. Laun­dry 5. Bath­room 6. Liv­ing area 7. Ensuite 8. Study nook 9. TV area 10. Mas­ter bed­room

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