The courtyard house for a family in Lavras, Brazil, sits on a sloping site in a modern subdivision. The building offered the opportunity to develop a series of interlocking interior and outdoor spaces, grouped together in a promenade ascending the hillside. The paradigm of the courtyard house organized around outdoor living areas, where the “negative” space is the feature, is the opposite of the typical houses we work on in the United States, which sit as “objects” in the landscape.

From our studies of Spanish Colonial architecture in Mexico and South America, we extrapolated historic building patterns and forms to accommodate a modern, suburban lifestyle. Simple, prismatic forms, large window and door openings, and heavy mass construction are used to respond to the local climate and construction techniques.