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Jose Zanine Caldas

Brazilian Modernism

Casa Jose Zanine Caldas is an icon of Brazilian architecture and landscape design.  This style of architecture incorporates nature and light to create a harmonious, peaceful and beautiful home.

Casa Jose Zanine Caldas is a super beautiful mountain retreat located in the Vale da Boa Esperança (the Valley of Good Hope) near Itaipava in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. The house was designed and built in the 1970s by self-taught artist, designer and architect, Jose Zanine Caldas (1919-2001). At age 20, Jose Zanine Caldas moved from his hometown to Rio de Janeiro to start an architectural scale model workshop. 

 In this context he met and worked with some of the architects responsible for bringing Modernism to Brazil such as Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, the principal urban planners of Brasília. A life-long proponent of forest protection, Jose Zanine Caldas attempted to plant a new tree every time a tree was taken down for one of his projects.  He created true green architecture long before the term became trendy.

Jose Zanine Caldas was a master at creating modern architecture that had a serious relationship with nature. He created his own house as a symbol of reverence for nature and incorporated the natural landscape into the design. When Jose Zanine Caldas bought the property up in the hills above Itaipava, he decided he was going to build the house on top of a big rounded boulder overlooking the valley. Jose Zanine Caldas incorporated the boulder in the design of the house, with its top sticking right through the floor of the dining room. The boulder is an integral part of the design feature and it successfully blurs the boundaries between architecture and nature. It went a long way in creating the ambiguity between the inside and the outside, something Jose Zanine Caldas always strived for.

The current owner is Brazilian jewelry designer Antonio Bernardo Herrmann who uses the house as a weekend retreat for himself and his family. An orchid conservatory showcases the current owner's passion for orchids with more than 300 types on display.

When the current owner purchased the house, it came with all the furniture included. The furniture includes classic icons of Brazilian modernism such as Sergio Rodrigues's Mole sofa and armchair from 1961 and Thonet's classic 'Schaukel-Fauteuil No. 1' rocking chair. The landscape design features mostly undisurbed lush natural vegetation including flowering Tabebuia roseo-alba trees, Bougainvilleas, Bromelias and Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise).

Please note that Casa Jose Zanine Caldas is privately owned; it is not open for tours.

Text Credit: Lucia Fontana for moderndesigninterior.com
Image Credit: Filippo Bamberghi for Casa Vogue