Açucena House | Tetro | World Design Awards 2023

Tetro: Winner of World Design Awards 2023. A place immersed in lush Atlantic Rainforest nature. A terrain filled with large leafy trees, foliage, shrubs, birds and wild animals. A challenging topography with a steep slope, characteristic of the Nova Lima region in Minas Gerais. This is the place where Casa Açucena is inserted.

The project is a response to a sensitive reading of the place. In a first contact with this terrain, it is already evident the need to maintain the natural characteristics. The act of looking upwards, from the ground to the canopy of trees, elevated up to fifteen meters above ground level, was decisive for the creation of the concept. How to build in a place with such a steep topography, while maintaining the original nature? How to give the residents the daily experience of looking up and seeing the sky through the treetops. These were the questions that guided all design decisions.

The initial understanding that architecture should mold to the terrain, and not the other way around, was the starting point. The house rises above the ground and the animal and plant life develops underneath. The program shapes itself by occupying the empty spaces between the trees. No trees are removed. The topography is not changed. Art and Nature in perfect harmony. From this point on, no choice or design decision was made by taste or will of the architect. Everything is a response and is intended to reinforce a concept.

 The house, in its white color, is a surprise to those who arrive. Its randomly placed black pillars blend in with the trunks. The house seems to float. Its fluid plan, a result of the program’s occupation among the trees, and its openings and folds in the slab, to reach the view of the treetops, generate the volumetry. The architecture is harmoniously inserted next to the natural vegetation, but maintains its presence. Surprise and novelty are values inherent to art. Casa Açucena presents itself as a white flower in the midst of nature.

Project Details

Carlos Maia

Project Name
Açucena House

World Design Awards Category
Private Residential Built

Project Location
Nova Lima

Carlos Maia, Débora Mendes and Igor Macedo


Photography ©Credit
©Jomar Bragança

Architecture studio based in Belo Horizonte – Brazil, and working globally, Tetro is formed by the architects Carlos Maia, Débora Mendes, and Igor Macedo. The office’s professional practice is based on the careful study of the premises and conditions presented by the location and the client, always seeking for a unique and irreplicable solution to each project. Fundamentals such as integration with nature, use of apparent materials and exploration of empty spaces are characteristics that permeate all the work. Allied to these questions, the team’s work takes the tradition of Brazilian modern architecture as a starting point, rethinking some of its main concepts to answer with innovation contemporary problems in architecture.