Thinking a home for priests by using extensively the possibilities of bricks: walls, structure, ceilings. Facilitating conditions for creative participation of the workers at the construction site. Revisiting old construction techniques seeking for new spaces. These were ideas that guided the design of Batatais.
As in ancient monasteries, the building was organized around a central garden square with a gallery – cloister – where the various spaces open. Two sides contain the bedrooms, brick vaults raised without formwork or supports. Linking these two sides are the structure with the solar collector plates and a water tower. Two walls, perpendicular to the vaults, separate rooms from bathrooms and, as aqueducts, lead hydraulic piping. In the third block, service areas, kitchen and dining room have semicircular vault ceilings built the old Roman way, with wooden crankshafts displaced along the walls. Four vaults, organized as a “weathervane”cover the dining room and meet in the center on a monolithic granite pillar.
The fourth side, the entrance, has living and meeting spaces with cylinders covered by brick domes built also without the aid of molds and with openings zenithal lighting. There is the access to the chapel, single volume to invade central garden space, with its continuous ceramic parable – floor, wall, ceiling – closed on both sides by stained glasses.
An almost forgotten technique was employed: on the roof of the cloister, mainly, the construction of flat slabs made of mud bricks. At the entrance gallery that roof is supported by generous arches and opens up to the light through various circular zenithal openings.
The participation of the staff work in the making of many elements and operations of the construction was intense: various designs in the placing of bricks – almost every worker’s signature on the walls -, improvement and transformation techniques, preparation of tender details. Thus, for example, the “gaudian” chimneys and the hollow element walls of the master work, the cross recess modulated bricks that surprised everyone when the chapel was finished: the missing detail in the vault that covers the altar. Other inspired hands worked wood, iron, stone, glass. The words of Louis Kahn, ‘history as a friend “, were the guiding theme of these spaces.Location: Batatais, Brazil Architect: Affonso Risi Architect & José Mario Nogueira Project: 1981/82
Area: 1000 m²
Collaborator: Renato Kaida
Structural project: eng. Ugo Tedeschi & eng. Haruo Hashimoto
Constructor: eng. Luiz Alberto Fantacini
Construction foreman: Benedito Brunherotti
Light design: arch. Esther Stiller & arch. Gilberto Franco
Landscape: eng. agron. Rodolfo Geiser
Stained-glasses design: Affonso Risi
Execution of stained-glasses: Conrado Sorgenicht
Photos: Wagner Abrahão Junior (2011)/ José Carlos Fioretto (1985), José Lucas Viccari (2011)