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Bragança Paulista, Brazil

The most difficult projects I've done were the ones where the place didn't have much to say. It wasn't the city and it wasn't the countryside. They were more like land on neighborhoods far from downtown, with lower density, more security, but lacking identity. Sometimes expressive or peculiar vegetation, a large tree or more, or even a terrain with organicity, horizons, views, the climate, would be elements that could help in the search for this personality. But when these attributes are not there, we need to create the story of this place in its entirety and make it good.

The dreamy blank page can be scary in situations like this. There are no very strong limitations or conditions, but there is no stimulus either. Where to look for inspiration?

It was a plot of land with generous dimensions in a condominium in the interior of the state of São Paulo that would house a weekend home for a family from the city of São Paulo. The 30,000 m2 plot of land occupied a block and was completely covered in potato grass. No trees. Surrounded by streets on all sides, with a difference in level of twelve meters, it didn't have very close neighbors, but many were coming. There was an extensive program that the landscaping project had to cover, which would not be a difficulty given the size of the lot. The element that would be the focal point of the entire project, to be created by the landscaping project at the client's request, would be a lake with fish and crystal clear water, in which one could enter, swim and observe an aquatic world inspired by the lakes of Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul.

The landscaper's vision is fundamental for a work with these characteristics. The first step of the landscaping project is to create a master plan that takes into account all the premises and requests, with the harmonious implementation of these elements on the land, considering their vocation, if any, the climate, the soil, the scale, the surroundings and their agreement with the street, in addition to cutting and filling compensation in order to minimize the removal or placement of land on the lot. The accurate perception of the terrain must be also validated by objective data, a mathematical work, believe me, that requires a lot of studies and sensitivity. In this extension, for example, an adjustment of 30 cm or even less in a level quota of implantation can make a huge difference in the cost and logistics of the work.​


I took the lake as the starting point of the drawing. The garden was designed based on it and everything started to happen around it. The lake's outline began as water that mirrored the sky and the surroundings in the center of the land. Its size on the scale of the place and the height of its location should be the size of the eye, so that the house could be seen in its entirety from wherever one was. Its long shape was born from this premise, and the design gave it a soft organicity. The curved lines of its contour sculpted the internal reliefs to enable deeper niches and shelter more demanding fish. On its edges, the curves created the beach and we meandered through colorful flowerbeds punctuated by trees and grasses tousled by the wind until they met the sapucaia and jaboticabeiras of the orchard. A large and delicate Santa Cecília granite staircase extends over the water, providing a new look.



In the end, after numerous studies, including important views, the house's plateau was 3 m below the level of the street at its access, that is, 1 m below the level initially proposed by the architectural project and the lake plateau, 1 m below the house. The lake, due to its characteristics, should also be seen from above, so that you can appreciate all the water colors that form with the bottom topography and the entire submerged water garden.

But it is not easy to reach the dimensions of the harmonic surface of this water. The position of the house on the land would be a result of the best position to enjoy the lake and, including with the studies, I chose to reduce the water surface, to accommodate the distance from the view to the scale of the place. Given the large size of the land and these elements, the layout should also be adjusted to the street elevations and the large plans required for the tennis court and football field.

I drew the pool spilling its water over the lake: two separate waters linked by sensation. Its rectilinear design with a sinuous internal slope integrates the strictest lines of the architecture with the organicity of the lake.


The entire land was surrounded by native trees, which today constitute a forest around the entire area, even protecting the view of the houses at the lowest level. There we planted Anadenanthera colubrina, Aspidosperma polyneuron, Balfourodendron riedelianum, Esenbeckia leiocarpa marking some points of the forest with its size and height, Lafoensia glyptocarpa, Nectandra megapotamica, Schinus terebinthifolia, pink cedar (Cedrela fissilis), Centrolobium tomentosum, Tibouchina granulosa, among many others. Important trees in our forests, such as sapucaia (Lecythis pisonis), jequitibá (Cariniana sp) and Jatobá (Hymenaea courbaril) indicate references. The slope side by side of the main entrance received two large groups of white ipês (Tabebuia roseo-alba) lined up. The slope side by side of the main entrance received two large groups of white ipês (Tabebuia roseo-alba) lined up. In the stands of the sports courts, which were made to contain the steep embankment and at the same time accommodate those watching the games, many yellow ipês (Handroanthus albus) were planted freely on the steps. Next to the courts, a Peltophorum dubium avenue. A group of purple ipê trees (Handroanthus impetiginosus) planted on soft grass terraces meet the pool's stone deck. The ingás (Inga sp), which like water, ended up at the edge of the lake. Two lines of date palm trees (Phoenix dactylifera) were planted in the continuation of the stairs over the lake, at the request of the client, who really wanted to have these palm trees in his garden. Many fruit trees join the jabuticabeiras forming an orchard with different lemons, star fruit, lychee, abiu, mango, avocado, blackberry and others. Right there, beds were created with cobblestones and filleted flooring for herbs and cut flowers. A large group of Calycophyllum spruceanum hugs the entire side of the house on the south side. Large flowerbeds with daylilies, tritoma, neomarica, bulbine, lantana, grasses and agapanthus flank the walkway next to the lake. Shrubs form large masses of noranteas, alamandas, mini Eugenia uniflora, bouganvileas, red pineapple, sofhora, cassias and many more. Next to the technical areas, hills were designed to provide height of land and at the same time provide a more friendly closure to the garden, receiving trees such as Cassia seyal, Erythrina crista-galli, as well as Bauhinias. A dense mass of grumixamas (Eugenia brasiliensis) with their delicious black fruits close the solar panels.

The types of circulation were characterized with different floors. For the driveway, arrival courtyard, service area and vegetable garden, filleted cobblestone granite was chosen. For the north side access next to the courts, cobblestone was used with grass joints in each row. For walks in the woods and by the lake, soil cement makes walking more pleasant. The pool deck was made with large slabs of Santa Cecilia granite, as well as a carpet made of strips of the same granite arriving in the spa. 

Little by little, the lake took on a life of its own and exercised its purpose of existence, reproducing a microcosm to be enjoyed while diving, with colorful fish dancing in its transparent waters, clear enough to reveal the aquatic garden that I designed under the water. 

It was extensive work over more than three years and, in the end, I think that on that blank page I designed a place and created a story. 

Área de intervenção ~ 30.000 

Projeto e execução  2005 - 2008

Arquitetura Bernardes & Jacobsen

Execução do lago Ecossys