Casa Box, a tiny house with many contrasts | Alan Chu and Cristiano Kato
Casa Box makes a striking first impression. The bright white cubic form stands in sharp relief against the dark rock face behind and the enormous rounded boulder next to it. A closer look reveals more contrasts. The modern concrete construction is supported by traditional stone walls, and the smooth surfaces are complemented by rustic and textured materials.
Architects Alan Chu and Cristiano Kato designed Casa Box to replace the old stone house that previously stood on the site, 100 meters up a steep mountainside on an island off the north coast of São Paulo, Brazil. The old single-story house was built right at the edge of the street and had windows that were too small to provide adequate ventilation or light. The new house is set back further from the street, with the second story making up for the reduced ground floor. Still, the small floor plan has just 36 m2 (387 ft2) of space.
The upper floor box is mainly a bedroom with a bit of extra space for a seating area. Raising the bedroom up to the second level gave it sufficient height for a view over the water to the mainland, and enough privacy to enjoy the view with a large floor to ceiling window.
Below the bedroom, between the stone supporting walls, is a kitchen and dining space. The bathroom is at the very back, dug into the mountainside. While the new house is further back from the street, privacy was still an issue, leading the architects put the main ground-level windows on the sides. As a result, unlike the open, distant view from the upper floor, the lower living space has very close-in views of the entry court on one side and a private courtyard against the boulder on the other side.
The materials were chosen based on their cost and availability on the island, as well as how well they worked together. Casa Box was for the most part built and finished using just stone, concrete, wood and glass. Much of the wood was obtained by recycling the scaffolding planks and concrete form lumber used during the construction.
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