July/August 2002



photos by Christoph Kicherer
text by Judith Pottecher

Imbued with modernist influences, aimed at a pursuit of maximum simplicity of expression, the projects of Isay Weinfeld reinterpret a wide range of materials in surprising compositions. With the virtuosity of a perfectionist the Brazilian architect creates vibrant harmonies of stone, wood, glass and light, translating elegant functional living into a system of planes and volumes.
The first project presented here, the Residencia Inglaterra in Sao Paulo, stands on a long, narrow lot. Here Weinfeld has met the challenge of creating a spacious, dynamic volume, carefully defining levels and proportions. The building is composed of juxtaposed box volumes, based on a structural and geometric principle that is indicated, on the exterior, by the use of two different materials: masonry in various shades of white, and natural wood. A corridor covered by a solid wood pergola leads to a courtyard faced by the main entrance. Here, bordered by white walls and gravel paths, we find a reflecting pool with large stones, whose evocative play of transparencies becomes an element of indoor-outdoor transition. Weinfeld sculpts the volumes, enhancing them with both noble and recycled materials. The inner layout is fluid, starting with a large entry with a staircase in wood and white marble leading to the various domestic spaces: the kitchen, the library and, on the upper level, the apartments. The flats face one another across a narrow corridor bordered by a wall in light stone. The natural lighting from an opening in the ceiling adds great expressive force to the frank simplicity of the whole.

For the Flagship Forum, the Sao Paulo showroom of the Forum fashion brand, Weinfeld has developed a project that recovers elements of the Brazilian tradition, updating them in a contemporary language. The edifice has an L-shaped plan, with two two-storey streetfronts, each entirely devoted on one side to the women’s collection, on the other to the men’s. A complex play of openings and walkways ensures visibility among the various parts of the building. Diffused by acrylic ceiling panels and amplified by carefully planned lighting systems, the natural light intensifies the sheen and transparency of the materials. Interrupting the white dominant, a large colored glass mosaic staircase leads to the bar, behind which stands an imposing wall in ‘taipa’, the rudimentary construction technique in earth and fiber widely utilized in the Brazilian countryside. From the furniture knobs to the thatched doors, the carpets from the northeast to the furnishings designed by Joaquim Tenreiro, each element contributes to the overall image. ”I wanted to show -Weinfeld explains – how an updated use of common, old objects and materials can lead to new modes of expression”. In his hands even the most banal materials and objects take on a new aesthetic dimension