Laurent Troost revives an abandoned structure in Manaus by inserting a tropical garden inside

The Cassina Innovation House in Manaus, BR. Credit: Joana França

Editor’s Note: Biophilic design was introduced in the 1980s as a way to connect humans to nature in our built environment, specifically indoors. Laurent Troost’s Cassina Innovation House is a great example of this theory in action and allows the locals of Manaus to embrace nature in interior spaces.

The Cassina Innovation House before Laurent’s additions. Credit: Joana França


The new Cassina Innovation House in Manaus is the inaugural landmark located in the Manaus Historical Centre, designed by Laurent Troost. The centre is housed inside a structure which has been left abandoned since 1960 and is refurbished with a tropical garden as the heart of the building.

The original 1896 structure has been painstakingly restored to showcase its unique construction technique, visible and finished with plaster, pigmented with a local red sandstone powder.

To create a sustainable structure that responds to the tropical climate of Manaus, Laurent Troost used various sustainable strategies, including inserting a tropical garden behind the historic façade that faces the Dom Pedro II square. The garden, according to the architect, is a reminder to people of the context in which the structure exists, that creates a link to the Amazon rainforest. The visitor can access the building via the walkways, which crisscross the void over the garden, bringing a biophilic element to the journey. 

The interior of the updated Cassina Innovation House, complete with walkways crisscrossing the foliage. Credit: Joana França

The garden also regulates the microclimate within the building, providing passive cooling to the structure. The passive cooling strategy also includes a ventilated void between the roof slab and the ceiling of the restaurant on the top floor, along with large eaves which ensure a thermally comfortable environment. The east side is fitted with a double skin façade which keeps the sun out, helping cool down the building.

Laurent Troost explains, “This access area, with its lush tropical forest, associated with glass, transparencies and reflections, mixes the history of Cassina's ruin with the future of the Innovation House in a space associated with technology, virtuality, contemporaneity and innovation.”

The building is designed to foster creativity and provide access to several associated places for the public to carry out their work. The areas are spread across four floors and include multifunctional spots, lounges, meeting rooms, laboratories, training rooms, as well as a cafe/restaurant on the top floor.

The top floor of the Cassina Innovation House, which includes a restaurant. Credit: Joana França

By inserting a new steel structure and integrated tropical garden, this development for Troost is a symbol of Manaus' new digital economy era where resources are shared, and sustainability is at the forefront. The new building references the Amazon, creating architecture that exists with Nature, mixing the history of Cassina's ruin with technology.

About Laurent Troost

Laurent Troost is a Belgian architect based in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. After his Master in Architecture and urbanism from Institut Victor Horta (ISAIVH) in Brussels (2001), he held a postgraduate degree in Geography and Cities from Escola da Cidade, São Paulo (2011).

After collaborating with respected architects such as Rem Koolhaas (NL), Manuel Bailo (SP), Thiago Bernardes (BR), and Arthur Casas (BR) for several years, he founded Laurent Troost Architectures in Manaus in 2008.

Troost’s concept for the design. Credit: Laurent Troost

Developing projects at all scales, his firm has stood out lately in several international competitions and awards, such as the Deezen award, the World Architecture Award, the Architecture Masterprize, the IAI Most Creativity Award, and, on the national level, the Prêmio de Arquitetura Tomie Ohtake.

Parallel to his professional practices, Laurent has taught and lectured in several universities and cultural centers all over the world. He’s been the Vice President of the Brussels Architecture Society (SadBr) from 2002 until 2008. He’s also been the Director of Urban Planning for the Municipality of Manaus from 2013 to 2020 and has been a consultant in Urban Planning at the World Bank Group ever since.


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