Monkey House, a retreat for pandemic times in the Brazilian rainforest


La Cuisine International
© Rafael Madeiros


When the pandemic began many wished they could run away to a retreat in the jungle just like Monkey House. The wooden hut located among the trees of Serra Paraty, built by Atelier Marko Brajovic, is a guest house that the renowned architect envisioned near ARCA, the house where Brajovic took his wife, two children and dogs at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic.


Inspired by the verticality of the Amazon rainforest, Monkey House is a metal gable-roofed hut that offers the possibility of approaching the crests of the trees, gently and subtly, connecting with its countless inhabitants of the kingdom of flora and fauna.


The structure with a wooden frame works synergistically between wooden components all of the same profile, covered by galvalume skin and thermoacoustic insulation. Located in a secondary forest area, and installed among trees, it occupies a small area of 5m x 6m, thus creating zero interference in the local vegetation with a total area of 86m2.


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An Airbnb in the jungle

When he talks about Monkey House, Brajovic is candid to say that it was meant for hosting friends and as a holiday house for short and middle term rentals on the Airbnb platform. In an interview with the website Dezeen, the architect said: “Staying here, I realized that many other families were doing the same.”


“The second home becomes the first or people move to smaller communities, to more resilient and safe areas,” he added.


The cabin built on many slim stilts is a house that allows us to understand the dynamics of trees within the jungle, which struggle to capture the precious solar energy to grow.


This multi-story retreat, which has all the comforts of modern living, houses a sort of observatory on its rooftop. “A place of encounters and gatherings, to observe nature inside and outside of us, to learn and relate regeneratively.”


The return of the monkeys

A very interesting fact that Brajovic shared with Dezeen, is why he built this cabin. “A few years ago the monkeys that lived at the foot of Serra in Paraty disappeared. It was said that yellow fever in the area was infecting primate families and they cleverly decided to flee. In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, the day we started thinking about a house connecting to the magnitude of the trees, there they reappeared. A family of capuchin monkeys, a complete tribe! They came back and taught us the way, where and how to design our project.”


The architect explained that this return, and how these monkeys turned the surrounding habitat into their home, encouraged him to carry out a project with these characteristics.


Monkey House is therefore a work inspired 100% by its surroundings. Brajovic designed it after observing how the Juçara palm trees native to the forest use their roots to anchor their slim stem to the earth.


The entire structure is made with elements of the area. For example, the wood used is known as garapeira, a dark tropical wood, which is mixed in the construction with bamboo.


The decoration and furniture of this jungle retreat are a mixture of Japanese and indigenous design, the curtains were made locally with fishing nets, while the rest of the details were manufactured by Guaraní, indigenous people of southern Brazil and Paraguay.


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