The renovation of a gorgeous brutalist house in Brazil

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I can’t help but think that owning a house like this is likely evidence that the owner has had people murdered


How about a nice, old-fashioned Alpine Chalet then?



The house comes with its own Bernard Herrmann score.


That the house needed so much renovation and re-planning says a lot about the original architect’s Corb-like disconnect from (if not outright disdain for) other humans and their need for a comfortable, durable home. I really try to re-assess brutalist architecture more generously in a contemporary context, but I continue to come away still hating it on all levels.


“It hung in the sky exactly the way that bricks don’t.”


Do you apply the same logic to assessing Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling water as a matter of interest? Because there is a monument to collosal architect bro arrogance and ignorance.


I think like so many things in life style/genre is a poor predictor of merit. Glombed under the brutalism label are a huge variety of structure types having only fairly broad connections, and a lot of diversity in formal aspects, physical construction as well as ideological attachments.

Not sure many people would want to live in those - but I can see the inspiring aspects on a number of levels.


Fallingwater is more aesthetically pleasing than the vast majority of brutalist homes, but yeah, most of his homes (even the Usonian ones) aren’t really made for humans to live in. They’re pretty and are good spaces for entertaining but that’s about it. Brutalist residences don’t have those few advantages.

Fashion, interior design, and industrial design have all moved on, but brutalist buildings serve as enduring built-environment reminders that the 1970s was the decade when good taste took a holiday.


I’ve never seen anything in the brutalist genre that I could call gorgeous. ‘Interesting’ is the best word I can come up with.


Have you actually been inside Fallingwater? I have, and I think it’s perfectly livable, with the caveat that it was built to be essentially a bunkhouse for a millionaire’s summer camp. The beds themselves didn’t look that comfortable (again, bunks), but the common areas are warm and inviting despite being made of stone. As far as durability goes, the thing is still standing proud after nearly a century straddling a creek.


The Kaufman’s (the clients) were also rather short, as the interior of Fallingwater has that kind of uncomfortably-cozy closeness that historic homes from the Colonial era do: back when nurtrition was perhaps not as good.

It’s gorgeous, and FLW had an eye for color, detail, and materials. Maybe a little less so in areas of things like drainage and site-settling, but Fallingwater is in my very biased opinion, a lovely, dreamlike place. The fact that most of Wright’s famous buildings are a century old at this point to me speaks to the timeless appeal of clean lines and buildings suited to the site. That they are also dark, cramped, and problematic speaks to the architect’s inability to become God, no matter how highly he thought of himself.

[Looks at cracks in ceiling of 60+ yr old ranch home.] All told, I think I’d still rather live in a Wright.


Thanks to millions of dollars worth of restoration efforts.


I had a job once, working in one of these “world class” buildings designed by a fancy architecture firm… beautiful to look at from the outside, deeply unpleasant to actually have to work inside.

I imagine this is what the era will go down in history for. All appearance, no function.


Even though Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings tend to have “good bones”, Fallingwater’s landmark status means that an extraordinary amount of preservation effort has been put into the residence. Without that it would have ended up in the creek decades ago.


More to the point it wasn’t made to stay up either. His arrogance said that his ideas were better than engineering. And the entire point of the building is to be looked at to say he’s great. That’s why it’s built where it should be looking out on rather than where the photographs are taken. You see aesthetically pleasing, I see objectification of arseholedom.


Sorry to be mean about FLW, though he was a total dick like most famous architects, but the original comment just reminded me of from Bauhaus to our house which is a really terrible book. It blames all the ills of America on European modernism. So out of town malls (which didn’t exist in Europe at the time) are blamed on Mies Van Der Rohe rather than US car culture. It also annoyed me because Tom Wolf is awful and uses his research to make his writing opaque to the reader. So in this he used archaic architectural terms. As it happens I was working somewhere with a whole lot of archeological surveys around then and they came with glossaries so I was familiar with words like, quoins, merlons, and escutcheons and I noticed that one of his show off words he put in to show he was smarter than you, was not correctly used. Because Tom Wolf is a dick, celebrating dicks.

But yes fallingwater does look beautiful.


See above. Not due to his design, which was structurally unsound.


My alma mater, The Evergreen State College, also went for the Brutalist look when built, even the campus clock tower. It’s… not that bad, really. More recently (relatively speaking) they added a Native American longhouse as a cultural center, which looks great.


It looks like one of them robot dogs.


It’s a gorgeous structure, although a FLW doco informed me as to the unsuitableness of the construction materials and site chosen (quite subject to weather). In the case of Falling Water, one could say that even the owners had to suffer for the art.