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photo of Rio House
Photo: Maíra Acayaba

Rio House

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio House

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Design Principal

    Tom Kundig

This private retreat adjacent to the Tijuca National Park outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a rational steel-and-glass box supported by two concrete piers. The 1,500-square-foot house rises into the rainforest canopy – a secluded hideaway for the owner couple to retreat from the city and connect with the natural landscape.

The home is sited in harmony with the wildness of its tropical jungle setting. Tucked into the juçara palm and cariniana trees, the north end of the home contains a single bedroom while the south end opens to views of city, sea and Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Below, a screened porch and outdoor kitchenette allow the owners to engage the landscape.

Painted, marine-grade stainless structural steel – the home’s primary material – stands up to the humid climate where corrosion is a concern. Manual gizmos on pivot windows and retractable window walls, as well as a solar water heating system, allow the home to function during intermittent power outages. Local construction techniques are incorporated inside and outside the home, from board-formed concrete site walls and colorful plaster interior walls to the Brazilian wood and vermelhão stained concrete floors, a common vernacular tradition.

The building hovers above the land and is a platform for the owners to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful Rio landscape. Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA




AIA Housing Award


AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Design Awards, Honor Award

Architectural Record, Record House



Hennigan, Tom. “Cloud Forest.” Architectural Record, Apr. 2020, 61, 100-104. Print.

Hennigan, Tom. “Rio House by Olson Kundig.” Architectural Record, 1 Apr. 2020. Web.