ISSUE 78  |  Heading South

House Call: A Midcentury Renovation in São Paulo

June 27, 2013 9:00 AM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

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Young Brazilian architect Felipe Hess creates a personality-laden flat for himself in a midcentury apartment building in São Paulo.

Hess preserves the character and organizing principles of the architecture while adding his own masterful stroke—a wall-length bookshelf that sets the tone, pace, and material finishes for the entire project. 

Photography by Fran Parente via Yatzer

Above: The original concrete structure organizes the open living areas of the dining room, living room, and office.

Above: The concrete frame provides framed views of the hall where Hess displays his collection of small chairs as stools. 

Above: A refined linen cover for the sofa contrasts with the exposed concrete.  

Above: A pass-through window provides a visual and physical connection to the kitchen. 

Above: The kitchen is lined with subway tiles, adding a layer of texture to the neutral and natural palette. 

Above: Hess gave the original parquet floor a more rustic finish.

Above: A wall-spanning bookshelf made of Freijo, a strong hardwood found in the lower Amazon, brings warmth into the living area while providing an organizing structure for Hess’s personal momentos. 

Above: The finished Freijo wood is a counterpoint to the exposed concrete wall. 

Above: Hess organizes his paintings in a loose grid while the bookshelf provides a more rigid grid for arranging still lifes.

Above: An office area sits in an alcove off the open living area. 

Above: Hess’s collection of sketches from favorite architects and designers like Oscar Niemeyer, Isay Weinfeld, Marcio Kogan, Tom Dixon, John Pawson, and Sergio Rogrigues sits above a desk by midcentury Polish/Brazilian designer Jorge Zalszupin. 

Above: Full-height curtains add a romantic note to the hard-edged interiors.

Above: The wood finish of the bookshelf in the living area is continued consistently into the bedroom.

Above L: The bathroom has a vintage sink from the 1950s and a mirror found in a flea market in Buenos Aires. Above R: Hess’s minimal detailing involves a bedside table that is integrated into the floating headboard.

Drawn to the classics? See 167 Midcentury Images in our Gallery of rooms and spaces to create your own sense of timelessness or have a look at RADD Roundup: Concrete and see how five Remodelista Architect and Designer Directory members use this versatile material.