São Paulo, Brazil
by Isabel Duprat

The great beauty of this property in São Paulo, which opens onto a corner, and the reason for its choice are four magnificent sibipirunas already in their 60s or more, spreading energy under their lacy crowns. 

If trees are the wealth of the land, everything must be thought to protect and revere them. The design of Jacobsen Arquitetura's house foresaw a pergola supported on the front wall containing one of these trees. My first move was to propose to release it so that the beauty of its trunk and its crown could be offered to the garden. The eye of the landscaper has the sky as a scale reference, and the tree is the element that makes this connection. 

The square pool previously proposed was very close to a magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), which would also be preserved, and for this its roots had to be protected from any intervention. This protection of the trees, to be effective, must respect the height of the tree's neck, which is the starting point of the trunk roots. As the house on its implantation was above the original ground and the pool deck was approximately 60 cm above the height of the trees’ necks, it was necessary to adjust the ground with a trim that would preserve the height of the neck of all the beautiful trees on the plot. Even if it were 20 or 30 cm, the neck should be respected, there can be no burial. It is quite common for this requirement not to be observed and to see valuable trees die after a year or two for this reason. 

I thought of the pool as a dark green cutout in a travertine patio, continuing the floor of the terrace rooms overlooking the garden. This position of the pool, now with a more elongated rectangular shape and with a displacement towards the south face of the property, allowed a larger garden area on the left, which thus received with dignity a work by the Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry and at the same time guaranteed the space to make the necessary closing providing privacy to the house, in addition to more depth to the place. We made this closing with Pinangas coronata, Ptychosperma macarthurii and Strelitzia augusta, approximately 7 meters high. A basalt path that has guaranteed comfortable access to the terrace is at the same time a walk through the garden, offering the possibility to enjoy the house and the garden itself from another angle. 


When another plot of land was annexed to the northwest side of the lot during the work, we created a garden with Ptychosperma elegans palms under a pergola lined with ferns, sobralias and philodendrons. The crowns of palm trees minimize the view of the neighbor from the rooms on the upper floor of the house and this garden showed a vocation to receive orchids. Next to the gym and sauna, we planted a small orchard with persimmon, lime, peach, pomegranate and a vegetable garden with spices and herbs.​


Intervention area 1600  m²

Projeto e execução 2013 - 2016

Casa Tropical: Houses by Jacobsen Arquitetura. Philip Jodidio, Thames & Hudson, 2020

Crown shyness

This beautiful photo I got from my brother André was taken of the sibipirunas of this property on one of his bike rides through the neighborhood on the way to his home. I was intrigued by the fact that the crowns don’t touch. I went in search of understanding this and discovered that the phenomenon is studied, has the nickname "crown shyness" and no one is sure about what causes it. It is more frequent in some types of trees of the same species.

One of the hypotheses for this “social distance” is that the wind can help to keep the trees away by knocking the branches off each other, improving the sun's entry and preventing the attack of insects and parasites. Over time the tree learns its place and keeps the distance.

The certainty is that we are facing a beautiful event, that we can look at the sky and admire it.