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Talk on clinker at Veretec 2022
Talks at Veretec

Postcard, Brasilia, date unknown c. 1960s
BBC: The Inquiry
BBC World Service 2019

Itapoã, DF Brazil photograph © Joana França 2011
Brasília: Life Beyond Utopia
Brazil Institute, Kings College London 2016

Brasilia, DF Brazil photograph © Joana França 2011
Brasília: Life Beyond Utopia
Architectural Design [April 2016]

McAslan Gallery: Emerging Architects
Two exhibitions for the McAslan Gallery
McAslan Gallery 2016

Edzell Castle, Angus
Edzell Castle: Architectural Treatises in Late 16th Century Scotland
Garden History Society 2014

Architecture and the Humanities
Architectural Research Quarterly 2014

Rio: Canal do Mangue Postcard
Urban Planning in Rio 1870-1930: the Construction of Modernity
Brazil Institute, Kings College London 2014

London Tower Block
Review of Remaking London: Design and Regeneration in Urban Culture
Architectural Research Quarterly 2013

Oscar Niemeyer: House in Canoas, Rio de Janeiro
Life's a Beach: Oscar Niemeyer, Landscape and Women
The Rest is Noise Festival
South Bank, London 6 October 2013

Brasilia Tres Poderes
BBC: Last Word
BBC Radio 4 7 & 9 December 2012

Brasilia Tres Poderes
Brasilia: Fictions and Illusions
Brazil Institute, Kings College London 2012

Nolli Plan of Rome
Connected Communities Symposium
University of Dundee 2011

Arup: White Building, St John's College Oxford
Architecture + ESI: an architect's perspective
FESI [The UK Forum for Engineering Structural Integrity] 2011

Booth Poverty Map of London
Review of Mapping London
Architectural Research Quarterly 2010

RIAS: landworkers exhibition
Dundee Contemporary Arts
14-28 May 2009

Antonio Carlos Elias: Epulis Fissuratum
The Studio of Antonio Carlos Elias
Epulis Fissuratum [Brasília 2006]

Thomas Deckker: superquadra penthouse project
Superquadra Penthouse Project
Penthouse Living
[Wiley 2005]

Arquivo Brasilia
Arquivo Brasília
Sala Martins Penna
Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro
19-20 April 2005

Revisiting Brazil: View of Exhibition
Revisiting Brazil
RIBA Gallery 2
9-30 October 2003

Houston Car Park
Urban Entropies: A Tale of Three Cities
Architectural Design [September 2003]

Guedes Apartment, São Paulo
New Architecture in Brazil - Photographs by Michael Frantzis
Brazilian Embassy, London
5-6 March 2003

Joaquim Gudes: Kerti House, São Paulo
Natural Spirit (Places to Live 007)
Wallpaper* [January/February 2003]

Wallpaper*: Architects Directory
Architects Directory
Wallpaper* [July/August 2002]

RIBA Journal: Foreign Legion
Foreign Legion
RIBA Journal [March 2002]

Le Corbusier: Heidi Weber Pavilion, Zurich photograph © Thomas Deckker 1996
Architects and Technology
The Encyclopaedia of Architectural Technology [London: Wiley 2002]

Mission Concepcion (1755) San Antonio, Texas
Mexican-American Architecture
Mexican-American Encyclopaedia [2002]

W3 Brasilia 1960s Archive Photograph
Canberra / Brasília
Canberra Contemporary Art Space [Canberra: CASC 2001]

Oscar Niemeyer: Congresso Naçional Brasília
In the Realm of the Senses
Architectural Design [July 2001]

Thomas Deckker: Magalhães House
Thomas Deckker: Two Projects in Brasília
Architectural Design [Oct 2000]

Degree Unit G: Mexico 1997-98
First International Seminar on the Teaching of the Built Environment [SIEPAC]
University of São Paulo, Brazil
13-15 Sept 2000

Thomas Deckker: The Modern City Revisited
The Modern City Revisited
[London: Routledge 2000]

Thomas Deckker (editor): Issues in Architecture Art & Design
Issues in Architecture Art & Design
vol. 6 no. 1 [University of East London 2000]

Luigi Snozzi: Monte Carasso, Bellinzona photograph © Thomas Deckker 1982
The re-invention of the site
Relating Landscape to Architecture
[London: Routledge 1999]

The Modern City Revisted Conference
The Modern City Revisited
University of East London
27/28 Mar 1999

Luigi Snozzi: Kalman House, Locarno photograph © Thomas Deckker 1982
Monte Carasso: The re-invention of the site
Issues in Architecture Art & Design vol. 5 no. 2 [University of East London 1998]

Donald Judd: Chinati Foundation, Texas
Specific Objects / Specific Sites
Rethinking the Architecture / Landscape Relationship, University of East London,
26-28 Mar 1996

Herzog & deMeuron: Hebelstrasse Apartments, Basle
Herzog & deMeuron
Issues in Architecture Art & Design vol. 3 no. 2 [University of East London 1994]

RIBA Journal: Foreign Legion

Foreign Legion

RIBA Journal [March 2002]

➲ Magalhães House

On the edge of contemporary Brasília a new suburb has sprung up that might be mistaken for a typical residential development found in Florida, planned around the car, with popular all-you-can-eat restaurants and cinema multiplexes along the road on the way there. You would have no idea you were still in the iconic city planned by Costa and designed by Niemeyer except for slight glimpses, on the horizon, across the Lake Paranoá where the centre of Brasília still sparkles. Arriving in a neighbourhood of architecturally generic and clichéd suburban large houses set close together, one is pleasantly surprised by a looming white cubic form that announces the Magalhães House built by Thomas Deckker.

The overall outline of the house is enigmatic yet discernible. Windows and sliding shutters animate the sides of the house; the front elevations are starkly blank. The lifting clerestory roof over the internal hallway contrasts with the purely rectilinear forms of the overall shape. Two distinct yet merged volumes express the shift or 'splitting' of the overall plan where one half of the house is devoted at ground level to service and back-up (front to back): garage, servants' quarters, laundry and storage and finally kitchen, and the other half to a living area that reaches to its rear garden. The streetside front of the house is mute, the rear is open to its garden and is largely glazed.

Having entered the perimeter security fencing (an unfortunate contemporary common feature), you approach the large mass of the house and walk over an intricately and delicately intermingled paved and grassed forecourt. Upon entering the house, through an over-scaled concave indentation in the abstract exterior volume, you are drawn through the entrance hall that offers a suggestive fractured spatial glimpse upwards around a floating upper-storey hallway mezzanine and clerestory light from above. A built-in bookcase at the mezzanine forms the balustrade. The whole sensation upon entering is in two motions: 1) being physically pulled into the house and 2) then back towards the garden. The house and its spaces are designed to feel big, but, then, carefully thought out details at key moments create human scale and are all the more expressive, because they are clearly understood and experienced in isolation from distracting visual clutter. The ground level is covered in cool-feeling travertine, rich frejó hardwood forms selective emphasis on vertical surfaces along circulation routes where appropriate such as on the screen that naturally 'wobbles' guiding you to the living spaces.

The entrance hallway gives off to three differing living spaces, three spatially merged yet articulated "rooms" allow for differing domestic ambiences that might be characterised (but not exclusively) as : 1) watching videos/enclosed and cosy-achieved via a large built-in bookcase that functions in two directions 2) having an intimate head to head conversation/open but private-achieved via a locally dropped ceiling that tilts upwards oriented towards the inside and 3) entertaining friends/open and public-achieved via triple height space. Much of the furniture has been built to suit of local hardwoods and forms part of the design. Each space feels scaled in progression from small to large, making the triple height living space bordering the garden with its overscaled rear door feel really big. At the rear, the floating upper level is visible above as a huge expressed concrete chamfered form supported by a single large concrete pylon. This forms a large cross in the triple height space, the timber cupboards to the study above appear to float forming the de facto balustrading. The effect of the rear space is wholly dramatic and unexpected in a domestic situation. The stairs can be seen now leading upstairs next to the kitchen servery window.

Upstairs, the five bedrooms allow for private retreat via the airy and light filled upper walkway; a south-facing clerestory lightscoop overhead channels in diffuse light. Each bedroom is equipped with an ensuite bathroom/WC and an enclosed, but open to sky, outdoor grated metal landing, useful in the tropical climate for hanging up towels, growing house plants and ventilation. The master bedroom possesses an idiosyncratic bathroom with a curving ceiling into which a very three dimensional skylight 'hole' is carved dramatically, lighting the tiny space with ultra bright light. A semi-private study is found on the mezzanine overlooking the dramatic rear living space below; the natural light at this point comes from below and around the built-in furniture making it suitable for computers.

At the front, experiences are channelled into the two separate house components-either service or living. At the rear, the two separate halves come back together selectively with the kitchen joining the rear 'big' living space. At this moment, the house becomes a container for exuberant Brazilian lifestyle with its fondness for the outdoors and sociability. A barbecue is an extension of the kitchen to the back and one side, the pool lies connected beyond.

The experience of this rigorously modern house is sublimely logical, yet spontaneously natural in feeling and emotion. Deckker has created domestic architecture that sensitively moderates the particular, the personal, the domestic, yet is also a sequence of dramatic events. The neighbours are reminded that they live in Brasília.

The house is an accomplishment all the more as Deckker had to overcome the local prevailing primitive construction techniques employed by contractors for buildings of this scale and a stubborn mindset amongst house builders that neo-vernacular must be the only way to build a house. Despite these trials the final product is very crisp and true to its design but not overly perfect which lends it more life ultimately.
Elden Croy
London 2002