Beach House

Paraty beach house

Beach House in Paraty, Brazil, by Marcio Kogan

A spectacular beach house, designed by architect Marcio Kogan, is an apparent structural ingenuity. The house looks like something out of a James Bond movie, but underneath the shiny surface, everything is not so pretty…

There is alegend that says that the region of the colonial town ofParaty, situated on the Brazilian coast just south of Rio de Janeiro, has 365 islands, one for every day of the year.Two apparent concrete boxes lie embedded in the side of one of these islands. Their volumes protrude out of the mountain, almost on beach level,with a cantilever of up to 8 meters, forming a habitable space inthe middle of nature.

 

 

 

 

 

So much for the pretty exterior, but there is more: The house was constructed in a natural reserve, and Brazilian Justice ordered it’s demolition in 2010, just months after it’s conclusion, because of breaching ambiental laws. The owners, however, did not bow for Justice. The house is still standing. We might note that the owners are quite powerful:

The beachhouse in Paraty is owned by the Marinho family, the founders of Rede Globo. a television network that was launched in 1965, right after the military coup in Brazil. The company thrived under the military regime and until this day could be considered the fourth power in the nation; also one of the largest media companies in the world. Through its network, the broadcaster covers 98.6% of Brazil’s territory. For many people living in less densely populated areas, Globo is their only source of information. No democratic country has a media network with so much influence over it’s citizens. Globo influences elections and colors their news broadcasts from a rightwing, conservative perspective.

The Marinho family position themselves above the law, a bit like Brazilian royalty, which leads to irritation in less conservative circles. In Paraty, the Marinhos not only constructed the house and an adjacent heliport in a natural reserve, but also claim the beach in front of it as their own. One should know that By Brazilian law, all beaches are public; private beaches are not allowed. This weekend there were protests in front of the house by a group of activists that calls itself Midia Ninja. They “invaded” the beach in front of the house, thus claiming it as public territory:

Paraty Globo protests

Activists of Midia Ninja in front of the house.

Instead of apologizing for their collaboration in the coup of 64, Globo warned that they are already plotting another. But times have changed and we are no longer the same. We know that their empire was built during the military dictatorship with resources that belong to the Brazilian society. All that belongs to Globo is ours. We will invade your beach!” the activists stated.

They have a point:  But illegal as it may be, the house does possess certain architectural qualities. Demolishing it would be a pity. Considering that it was built in a public space (the beach) and payed for with (historically) public money, it should be public. Instead of demolishing the beachhouse, it might be turned it into a public pavillion, not unlike the French did to their royal properties back in 1789.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Way to the Sea

architecture blog, Copacabana

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Rogier Mentink

Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro is more than 200 meters wide. In the Brazilian summer, the sand gets extremely hot and the long walk to the waterline is an ordeal, even with a pair of Havaianas on your feet. Continue reading