Architectural Itineraries

I was living in Spain for several months, working on my castellano, when I met Gaia Redaelli, an Italian architect who at that time was the director of the Foundation for Contemporary Architecture, based in Córdoba. The foundation is well known for Architectural Itineraries, a series of bilingual pocket guides to Spanish architects and architecture, meant to encourage readers to go and see an architect’s work in person.

Gaia invited me to translate an outlier in the series, a guide to the Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha that maps out and describes 60 of his projects through photographs, blueprints, and informal notes (a style that I mirrored in the translation). Unlike every other guide they had published, this one relied almost entirely on source material written in Portuguese. This was a case of being in the right place at the right time!

It was a joy to work on this project because I’m a big fan of Mendes da Rocha’s work and philosophy. How he manages to make reinforced concrete buildings feel warm and cozy is still something of a mystery to me. The guides are available on the foundation’s website.

Source Text

Casa James Francis King

Diante do terreno irregular, com uma paisagem de intensa vegetação, as soluções que exigem pouca movimentação de terra e que não quebram a harmonia da paisagem são melhores.

Os jardins não começam e acabam no terreno (lote), mas são incorporados ao conjunto da chácara, provavelmente sem muros ou cercas divisórias.

Assim, a chácara é um lugar de passeio e paisagem visual. Para uso definido, no terreno, fica uma pequena esplanada, em nível +5,00, parcialmente sob a casa, para a piscina, abrigo dos automóveis (inclusive visitantes), churrasqueira, e como vestíbulo de entrada. Ligada à rua por uma rampa, arborizada.

As soluções fechadas, onde o programa é desenvolvido dentro de áreas mínimas, onde a construção abre-se para quatro faces externas com paisagem semelhante, foi evitada: a casa tem uma paisagem interna que contrasta com a amplidão externa. Exibe, para sí mesma, a vida interna da casas, a circulação dos serviços, a chegada e saída das pessoas. Ainda reflete uma luminosidade peculiar, decorrente das sombras e planos iluminados no pátio, diversa daquelas que aparecem nas áreas arborizadas externas.

A casa está abrigada dos piores ventos, os do quadrante sul, pela encosta natural e ensolarada em todas as faces.

Translation

James Francis King House

Given an irregular site with a landscape of lush vegetation, solutions requiring less earth movement, ones that do not destroy the harmony of the landscape are best.

The gardens neither begin nor end on the site (lot), they are incorporated to the entire area, probably without walls or dividing fences.

Thus, this country home is a place for strolling, a visual landscape. For defined use, there is a small esplanade on the site, at +5.00, partially underneath the house, for the pool, vehicle shelter (including for visitors) and barbecue grills. It serves as an entry hall as well and is connected to the street by a tree-lined ramp.

Closed solutions, where the program is developed in small areas, the structure opening on to four external faces with similar landscapes, were avoided: the house has its own internal landscape in contrast with the external expansiveness. It exhibits the home’s interior life to itself, the circulation of services, the arrival and departure of people. It also has a unique luminosity resulting from the shadows and illuminated planes in the patio, different from those that appear in the tree-filled external areas.

The house is protected from the strongest winds, those of the southern quadrant, by the natural slope and is exposed to the sun on all sides.