Clearly visible from Jardim Botânico, a noted residential area that dates back to 1808 when botanical gardens were established here, is the famed figure of Cristo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer. His outstretched arms welcome the world to Rio de Janeiro, a city that hosted the FIFA World Cup 2014 and will host the 2016 Olympic Games – two of the largest events in the global calendar.
Just 15 minutes from Brazil’s famous beaches, Jardim Botânico is a neighborhood edged by the lush Tijuca rainforest and the water and parks of Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas – a green, airy, and calm oasis in the midst of bustling Rio. That serene mood and the magnificence of the statue are mirrored in a fabulously contemporary six-bedroom family home in the area, where a 26-foot turquoise picture of Christ was the starting point for the property’s sophisticated interior design. Matched by views of Rio’s landmarks from the house, the overall effect is dramatic, theatrical, and wonderfully calming.
Landscaped gardens frame the mansion’s striking architecture, while an infinity-edge pool reaches out towards Rio
The current owners employed internationally acclaimed architect Ruy Rezende to create a modern and environmentally responsible property that would pack a strong architectural punch while maximizing standout views of the ocean, city, and forest. The brief? Large spaces and clean lines. Places to enjoy being together, along with cozy options for solitary moments. And a seamless join between the garden and house.
LETTING THE OUTSIDE IN
“My projects, whether urban or corporate, always aim to achieve timeless, distinctive, and sustainable architecture,” says Rezende, whose impressive portfolio of predominantly commercial and social development projects perhaps made him a surprising choice for this brief. Challenged to replace an existing house on a vast 50,000-square-foot site, Rezende considered the whole of the site and its unique aspects in his designs. “Each room of this house in Jardim Botânico was designed to unify the interior and exterior, optimizing perspectives of both the immediate surroundings and then beyond to the ocean and up to Cristo.”
This sense of unity carries through to the client’s own interior design – a pared-back silver and cream palette highlighted by vivid splashes of turquoise and orange. Natural materials used throughout include granite, the finest grade ipê wood, and super-sized white Silestone tiles. Entire walls of low-emissivity glass imported from Europe cover the client’s environmental brief by cooling the house in summer and warming it in winter, while at the same time showcasing those stunning views. The living room, accessed by a panoramic elevator from the entrance area, features soaring 28-foot ceilings, an entire wall of glass, and furniture that feels very much at home in the space, including a geometric sofa and Gaetano Pesce “Donna” chair.
The full effect is welcoming and harmonious, and is matched by an equally impressive exterior. Landscaped gardens frame the mansion’s striking architecture, while an infinity-edge pool – set in a wooden deck suspended over the garden – reaches out towards Rio.
Clean, modernist lines define the living space. Photograph by Matthew Williams
Double-height ceilings and expansive glass let the lush greenery in. Photograph by Matthew Williams
Completed in 2009, the property’s interiors encompass more than 40,000 square feet. Photograph by Matthew Williams
Architect Ruy Rezende. Photograph by Matthew Williams
“This is a discreet, secure property and the attention to detail is special, even for this neighborhood,” comments Frederico Judice Araujo of Judice & Araujo Imóveis-Christie’s International Real Estate, who is marketing the home. “It is truly an intelligent property. The air conditioning, lighting, audio, and water and energy consumption are controlled by automation – the largest residential automation project in South America. Wherever the owner is, an ERP system manages day-to-day operations through one click on his or her iPad.”
The overall aesthetic and approach is notably in keeping with the simple, clean lines that define the very icon of Rio itself, Cristo. It is undoubtedly the careful consideration applied by both owners and architect when commissioning and designing the property – a desire to balance the demands of 21st-century life with a sensitivity to the property’s truly unique setting – that has ensured this residence is its own fitting monument to modernity in a vibrant, changing city.