São Paulo's Casa Broos

Adam Štěch

Historical architecture journalist Adam Štěch tracks down a forgotten artifact of modernism in Brazil

In 2006, architecture and design journalist Adam Štěch launched an ambitious project to document the best modernist architecture around the globe. Over 30 countries and more than a decade later, he shares his findings in a new book—and a special series of edited excerpts just for the Design Miami Forum.

In coordination with Design Miami/ 2020’s America theme, Štěch spotlights historical modernist homes across the Americas, celebrating a diversity of perspectives as he considers how time and place played into each of these expressions. For the first installment, Štěch takes us to Brazil.

 

Casa Broos by Hans Broos

São Paulo, 1971–78

 Casa Broos by Hans Broos, a Brazilian interpretation of Modernism (1971-78). Photo © Adam Štěch

In 1971, noted Brazilian architect Hans Broos began to build a studio and house for himself in the residential district of Morumbi, São Paulo. This architect of German descent was one of the prominent practitioners of the Paulista School, and his 1960s and 1970s architecture displays the typical elements of this bold style associated with the city of São Paulo.

Inside Casa Broos. Photo © Adam Štěch

Rough concrete surfaces, substantial volumes, and an innovative use of light characterize the house, which has sadly deteriorated since his death. The legendary landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx collaborated with Broos on the project, not only designing a wild terraced garden for the house but also creating unique elements inside, including the fireplace and a hidden bar cabinet, approaching the design as an abstract sculpture.

 Inside Casa Broos. Photo © Adam Štěch

This lesser-known house is a wonderful example of a period of time, when, during the 1960s and 1970s, Brazilian architecture had transformed from the light and elegant curves of the 1940s and 1950s to the heavy Brutalist, Paulista style—embracing avant-garde qualities and rough materiality to create undeniably exceptional spaces, such as this. ◆

 The front terrace of Casa Broos. Photo © Adam Štěch

Adam Štěch’s new book Modern Architecture and Interiors (Prestel) celebrates over 1000 modernist architectural gems from around the globe. It is available for purchase here.

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