Loud city, quiet living — an urban retreat in the heart of São Paulo
Finding balance in one of the busiest shopping centers in the world
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about feeling good.
It’s been a year since I moved to New York City (for the second time), and the city feels better than ever. I’m surrounded by world-class restaurants, bustling bars, expansive galleries, parks, jazz clubs, and incredible architecture.
Living in a big city gives you a renewed sense of appreciation for how good it feels to go and do things. But after a while it gives you a renewed sense of how good it feels to do nothing.
It’s why I’ve been more drawn to homes that seek a balance recently. Retreats in big, busy cities where you feel like you’re the only one. Buildings that exude “atmosphere,” “peace,” and “tranquility” in a loud sea of happenings.
The other day I stumbled across the Maria Rosa House, a townhome in the Itaima District of Sao Paulo, Brazil, renovated in 2020 by VAGA. It sits on a street in one of the busiest shopping districts in the world, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you were in it.
The house itself is unassuming from the outside – the architects took care to preserve the original integrity. And then, you enter the living room.
There’s something refreshing about when the old meets new – the exposed brick, the wooden window frames, the dresser (and what I can only assume is a bouquet of marimba mallets), all in balance with the olive cabinetry and the natural light (thanks to an extension of the main floor towards the backyard).
Step down to the lower level and you enter the second living area and the garden.
If we think of homes as places designed to be a reflection of ourselves (or a reflection of who we aspire to be), living in this house must feel like a reminder to readjust and find balance, to seek out the quiet spots in a loud city, to move towards the shady part of the park on a summer day.
Or, in this case, offering you an invitation to stay in and take a nap in the garden — let São Paulo go shopping without you.
View more photos of the Maria Rosa House, and learn more about VAGA here.
And send me a reply if you want to leave a note for the architects! They love hearing from our readers.
Until next time :)
Thanks for reading Linear Magazine! Subscribe for free to stay up to get curated architecture and design delivered to your inbox.