By Kendall Clark, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Long regarded as one of the best jazz clubs in Rio, The Maze, perched on a plot of land in the Tavares Bastos favela community, boasts unmatched views of the Pão de Acúçar and the Guanabara Bay. Over three decades the fascinating architectural design has been a must-see in Rio, but now faces closure as authorities tighten the screws.
The winding ride to the top of the community, located in Catete off Rua Bento Lisboa, is marked with old Portuguese colonial-style homes, newly constructed brick structures and freshly sprayed street art advertising diversity, acceptance and of course, football (soccer).
The morro [hill] casts some of the most astonishing panoramic views, unknown to the residents of the more expensive homes a few hundred meters below. These majestic views are exactly what attracted Englishman Bob Nadkarni to the hillside community.
In the seventies, Mr. Nadkarni moved on to the piece of land and started constructing his masterpiece, a tranquil space with open living quarters, verandas and art studios. When talking about the architecture of his ‘labyrinth’ inspired home, his face illuminates as he describes the days when he began laying “tile-by-tile and brick-by-brick,” like it was yesterday.
Nadkarni notes that his inspiration to build the five-story house derived from the Mata Atlântica [Atlantic Forest], a once lush jungle now threatened by development, and at one point his backyard. “I could hear howler monkeys at night from my bed,” reminisces Bob.
Inside, it is hard to find any right angles, aside from the canvases scattered throughout the house. Instead, long curved concrete walls were designed to subconsciously lead the eye out towards the bay and to facilitate the transportation of Bob’s massive original paintings, without bend or break.
Transporting materials was difficult and costly due to the location of the site, yet Nadkarni eased the process by utilizing materials found within the community. The horseshoe sitting areas enjoyed by guests are made from thousands of plastic soda bottles covered with newspaper, chicken wire and then concrete.
Salvaged wood and tiles line the ceiling and floor, respectively, to create a balance of color that relaxes the senses. The asymmetric arches, carved by Nadkarni himself, serve as windows and doors resembling the city’s most recognizable mountaintops.
The arches coupled with the curves of the sweeping outdoor walls mirror the city’s vast hills and coiling seascape. Nadkarni envisions a “geometric forest” combining Rio’s natural blessings with the sound of music, the flow of creativity and the organic shapes of the city.
Unfortunately, the beloved venue is currently on hiatus due to several complications with City Hall and a dispute with an individual party, primarily regarding alleged building issues. The Maze management is currently campaigning for support from the community and funding to meeting newly imposed regulations. For more information and updates follow the The Maze’s Facebook page.
When asked if he would ever return home to mother England, he simply raises his arms welcoming the sea and mountains on his right and his masterpiece to his left, and replies, “I am home.”