With all the scantily clad, tan young lovelies parading through Rio de Janeiro’s beachside Ipanema neighborhood, an effort to temper curious gazes and blazing rays might come as a something of a surprise. But that’s precisely what a real-estate developer envisioned to make a small office building in this showy enclave a refuge to nurture creative businesses—in this case a culture magazine and a film production house in addition to a more buttoned-down real-estate management company. So Bernardes Architecture gave its three-story, 3,350-square-foot design an exquisitely understated screen in front of the facade proper.
“Its silent presence reflects the clients’ desire for a discreet, neutral face,” Thiago Bernardes explains of the 35-foot-high, 40-foot-wide screen. After multiple metalwork experiments, he succeeded in lightening its strips of powder-coated aluminum, thanks to a grid of tiny holes. The resulting diagonal egg-crate pattern, as seen from the sidewalk, updates two signatures of Brazilian modernism: One is muxarabi, a Moorish-inflected latticework, and the other is cobogó, a type of breeze-block.