LOG IN HERE
Username
Password

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?

Brazil

Day 32: Salvador

 
click to enlarge 
file size
The other side of the Bahian dream. A state-of-the- art eco-house in one of Salvador's smartest neighbourhoods. Nature's own air-conditioning comes from the breeze that flows through the retractable walls and the sliding Arabic screens.
Michael Palin - BrazilIn the afternoon we go to see an example of how the other half of Salvador lives. In the fashionable area of Garibaldi, close to the zoo, we turn off the freeway onto a green and pleasant lane which takes us up a hill, through security gates and into a neighbourhood of large, comfortable detached houses set back from the road and surrounded by gardens. We're in the company of Suzana Glogowski, an architect from a smart São Paulo practice called Studio MK27, which has designed one of these state-of-the-art houses for a rich Salvadorean who made his money in the restaurant business. Susan is slim and pale and physically about as far from the Bahian stereotype as you could imagine. She calls it the Bahia House, because their brief was to reproduce the essential characteristics of Bahian life, which boil down to the architectural equivalent of 'laid-back'. She smiles at this. Paulistas, she agrees, do have a stereotypical view of the Bahian.

'In São Paulo, where everyone's always busy all the time' – she does a busy-busy mime here–'there is a feeling that Bahians are all lazy. In fact they're not. They are slow, in the best way you can be slow. They speak slowly and they just enjoy life.'

In the garden stand three large mango trees, classic symbols of the tropics, which feel like guardians of the house. And the design responds accordingly, making use of natural ingredients wherever possible. Instead of conventional air- conditioning the house is aligned to make the most of the cooling breezes that blow up from the ocean and across the peninsula. There is a respect for the Portuguese tradition as well. Lattice-work Mozarabic grille screens can be drawn across to adjust the air flow. The interior is finished throughout with Freijó wood and the roof is of traditional red pantiles. From the 1950s onwards, Suzana thinks, modern design has been something Brazilians have been particularly good at, and apart from the house itself the stylish recycled wood armchairs of Carlos Motta and the benches of Sérgio Rodrigues show what a flair they have for the original and expressive. The lamps, by Tom Dixon, are British.

What Suzana and her partners from chilly, grey São Paulo have achieved is a satisfying balance of light and air. Every one of the many rooms feels as if you are indoors and outdoors at the same time. In the Bahian lifestyle, she says, the word 'varanda' has become a verb as well as a noun. This is the consummate house for people who like to veranda.

We drive back into the city in time to catch the sunset at the Barra lighthouse. It's on a promontory where All Saints' Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Apart from the lighthouse it's also occupied by the Forte de Santo Antônio (even military installations are called after saints), built in 1605 and solid as a rock. Clustered around the old walls is a crowd of sunset celebrants, mostly white, I notice. White-faced clowns, pipe players and the usual groups of the stoned and in love. A couple stare out at the ocean, hand in hand. Her T-shirt reads 'True Love', his 'The War Is On'. On one side, surfers ride in perilously, joyfully close to the rocks. On the other side, the powerboats of the young and rich slap and bounce their way across the waves. The sun sinks and disappears to a chorus of applause.
 
click to enlarge 
file size
The other side of the Bahian dream. A state-of-the- art eco-house in one of Salvador's smartest neighbourhoods. Nature's own air-conditioning comes from the breeze that flows through the retractable walls and the sliding Arabic screens.
Choose another day from Brazil

PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Brazil
  • Chapter: Day 32: Salvador
  • Country/sea: Brazil
  • Place: Salvador
  • Book page no: 139

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.

RELATED LINKS

  • All vehicles
  • Day 2 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 5 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 3 
  • Pole to Pole

RELATED PHOTOS

ROUTE MAPS