In this account, Cavalcanti describes most of the significant elements of the building: an extraordinary site, high up above the city in the mata atlantica, with views of the surrounding mountains and sea; a building that plays constantly with ideas of public and private space, collapsing one into the other; a building that still provides areas of intimacy, hidden away from private view; a house that stages and spectacularizes the body, providing a grand terrace on which guests can see each other and be seen to the best effect; a great swimming pool, defining the entrance to the house from the rear – indeed the house, like the later, Californian archetype, seems to emerge from the pool. 

Perhaps Cavalcanti could have also mentioned the sculptures littered about the place. In the architect’s usual taste, these curvaceous nudes, all breasts and buttocks, make clear (if there was ever any doubt) that this house was meant to frame a liberated attitude to sex. During Kubitschek’s presidency, the house was a critical part of Rio’s cultural infrastructure, providing a regular setting for cocktails for visiting dignitaries and intellectuals. The erotic charge of the house was no doubt more imaginary than real, but equally, there is little doubt that it helped to contribute – along with the beaches and   floorshows of Copacabana, and the genuinely uninhibited revelry of Carnival – to the myth of Brazil as an erotic paradise. That erotic potential is well described by the architect Ernesto Rogers, who recalled a visit to the house in the following terms:
I doubt that I shall ever forget that scene: the sun was just dipping below the horizon, leaving us in a dark sea of orange, violet, green and indigo. The house repeated the themes of that orgiastic countryside (incense and the hum of insects); a vast rhapsody beginning in the roof vibrated down the walls and their niches to finish in the pool, where the water, instead of being neatly dammed up, spread freely along the rocks in a kind of forest pool.
The house in this scenario is far more than the European Modernists ever really envisaged. Far from a ‘machine for living in’, this is a riot of orgiastic pleasure.
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