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Examining a circular floor plate in Rio de Janeiro

I came across this apartment on ArchDaily this morning and I immediately thought to myself, “this looks like the Lagoa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.” (Rio is one of my favorite cities and we nearly spent a few weeks of winter 2021 in this particular area.) So I opened it up and it turns out I was right. It’s a recent apartment renovation, in this building, by Rio de Janeiro-based architects MZNO.

I then got onto the floor plan:

Circular building floor plates invariably create fan-shaped suite layouts like this one here. From my experience, these can create some really beautiful spaces up near the face of the building, but they tend to work better when you have a bit more space to play around with. You’re also going to end up with diagonal walls and probably a radial structural system. In this case, the suite is just under 1,000 sf.

I wondered if this might have been two suites that were joined together, with the previous demising being the radial shear wall behind the couch (see above). There seems to be two entrances to the suite on this plan. But then I looked at active listings in the building and this seems to be a typical layout. So I think they just stripped things down to the existing structure in order to open up the plan.

The other item that stood out to me on the plan was the long corridor off the primary bedroom. But again, looking at other plans in the building, I can see that it was initially designed as a walk-in closet. This makes more sense, but it’s also a compromise brought about by this being a relatively deep plan.

The bedrooms are “tetrised” together to make efficient use of a limited amount of linear glazing. An alternative trade-off (in this second plan) would have been to give it more frontage, and then bury the office (escritório). But I suppose there’s a good argument to be made that it’s better to have more light in your office than in your bedroom.

MZNO was probably thinking along these same lines when they designed the linear kitchen in the way that they did in the first plan. By aligning it perpendicular to the suite’s exterior glass, you’re able to gain access to a view and some light even when you’re toward the back of the suite.

Finally, the other thing about circular buildings is that they allow you to do cool circulation spaces like the above. In this case, all of the common area corridors are single-loaded, and wrapped around a huge lightwell in the middle of the building. This maybe isn’t so good if you suffer from vertigo, but it’s obvious that these corridors are serving as an extension of people’s living areas.

And since this is Brazil, they’re naturally filled with greenery.

Images: MZNO & Loft

1 Comment so far

  1. Judith Martin

    The staircase is fabulous, and some of the planning is clever, but I’d be extremely unhappy about the internal kitchen in the second layout. The mark of affluence these days in the UK at least is a bathroom with an opening window. A kitchen with no window is just a terrible thought. Extractors are noisy, and will malfunction.
    I should check out the plans for the apartments in gasholders, as in Dublin and later in Kings Cross, but in both cases the circular building is about conserving a historic asset, not building weirdly for the hell of it.


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