What is the best way to get a sense of an architect’s personal style? The answer is simple — consider the design of their home. Unencumbered by the constraints of client preferences, one might expect architects to experiment with more daring design ideas when curating their spaces. But for some, it’s a welcomed exercise in simplicity. The latter was evidently the case for Brazil’s Leonardo Shieh, whose Vinhedo abode was completed in 2020.
For the father of two young boys, the objective was to create a space where “one could step on grass from the bedrooms.” To foster this connection to nature, the architect organized the house’s four interconnected pavilions around a courtyard, which teems with lush tropical greenery that climbs the building’s concrete walls with pleasing contrast. The exposed masonry structure anchors the house’s austere material palette, designed to patina with the passage of time.
A generous double-height living, dining and kitchen space forms the heart of the home. Here, the structure’s cold concrete walls are balanced by warm wooden finishes and complemented by an eclectic mix of mid-century furnishings. Adding to the material play, a latticed wooden screen casts graphic shadows on the fireplace as it filters in the light. From this space, a staircase leads up to a mezzanine and rooftop terrace that overlooks the street.
A sense of openness, and the ability to see the entire complex from each space, was no doubt a necessity with two young boys running around. Each pavilion’s sliding glass doors open up to the central green space and an adjacent outdoor kitchen, equipped with lounge seating and a dining set to create a natural extension of the interior.
Opposite the living room, a high-design lap pool rounds out the space. Heated by solar panels, the pool’s vibrant teal tiles and linear wall design provide the perfect backdrop for the boys to burn off their energy — and seek relief from the subtropical summer heat.
By night, the pool is transformed into a moody, meditative space, imbued with the influence of Japanese bathhouses. Perforations in the concrete canopy above become skylights, casting reflections on the tiled wall to amplify the ambiance.
Though the house was designed pre-pandemic, it couldn’t have been completed at a more opportune time. Located just over an hour from São Paulo, the home offers a place of quiet respite, allowing the family to split their time between the bustling capital and its more tranquil outskirts.
On the outskirts of São Paulo, Leonardo Shieh’s courtyard home carves out space for family.