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With a tropical rainstorm hammering down onto his practice in downtown Belo Horizonte, Gustavo Penna – one of Brazil’s most sought-after architects – waxes lyrical about his latest creation: the Edifício Zodíaco.

“This building is really crazy – it’s like you are stood on the bow of a ship,” he says, reaching for a pencil and sketching its sleek, curved outline onto a piece of A4 paper. “I think it looks like a flycatcher bird. Look at its pose. Its breast sticking out. It’s not cement and steel that make a building – it’s poetry.”

The recently…

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