Waxing Brasil

Brasil seems like an interesting place. Some of the world’s best beaches, music you cannot help but sway your feet to (almost all of it – I’m looking at you Pitbull), architectural experimentation in Brasília through the late Oscar Niemeyer who died (still working) at 105 years young in 2012, and after 60 years, the last VW camper van rolled off the assembly line just a few weeks ago. Although, as we have seen during the run up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, there’s a great divide between the haves and have-nots. Sometimes the tension breaks free of it’s delicate balance and you have political unrest. These are a people with passions. The world’s eye being on this country will most certainly turn out to be a good thing, as I am ever hopeful of the strength of the human spirit and desire towards justice and equality.

On to the houses…

(click to see as a slide show)

All this energy seems to be helping the construction industry, (independent of the games) and there is much fresh experimentation. It’s encouraging to see prefab in Brasil taking off. The confluence of technology and desire for newness is shattering the traditional stereotypes of modular or pre-fab housing, while managing to achieve a minimalism and spareness that celebrates both nature and shelter. Here are three examples: Mini Mod, Innotrade Modular and the off-the-grid Solar Decathlon Europe project from Team Brasil, Ekó House. Perhaps the United States is hoarding all the world’s spare shipping containers; as these examples are all of a similar ISO container modular dimension, they are all fabricated as bespoke boxes.

What’s interesting is the cultural, material and stylistic diversity of the Team Brasil strategy that manages to pull together a really well-considered concept. Although they did not win, all the entries were pretty fantastic.

Here’s a video tour of design concepts behind the Ekó house (in English).

Ekó House from EkóHouse on Vimeo.

{Credits: Top image – The Metropolitan Cathedral, located in Brasília, Brasil – by Oscar Niemeyer, 1970 – photographer Victor Soares/ABr. 2003 – source Wikimedia Commons | slides: Mini Mod – 1 through 6 – by MAPA (MAAM Studioparalelo) http://mapaarq.com, photography by Leonardo Finotti ©photo@leonardofinotti.com | Innotrade Modular – 7 through 9 – www.innotrademodular.br | Ekó House – 10 through 12 – by Team Brasil http://ekobrasil.org/

2 thoughts on “Waxing Brasil”

  1. Perhaps the bespoke boxes offer freedom of materiality that the ISO containers lack. Either way, would be interesting to see some cross pollination between the US and the Mod Mini’s.

    1. Point well-taken. There’s a certain advantage to plywood or a lighter weight steel or even aluminum structure. One thing I am becoming aware of is the weight of these empty containers is 2270-3400kg (5,000 to 7,500lbs). Given that a mid-sized (often referred to as a 3/4 ton) pickup truck can max out at pulling 5400kg (12,000lbs), I am worried my truck budget, even for a very well-used one, may exceed what I am comfortable spending.

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