Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum
Formoso do Araguaia, Brazil
Gustavo Utrabo / Aleph Zero Pedro Duschenes / Aleph Zero Adriana Benguela / Rosenbaum Marcelo Rosenbaum / Rosenbaum
Helio Olga / Ita Construtora (Enginner) Ricardo Heder / Lux Projetos (Light Designer) Raul Pereira / Raul Pereira Arquitetos Associados (Landscape Disigner)
The process: To better understand the scale of this place inhabited by children, whose point of view changes with every grown inch and to propose a new understanding of the learning space also as a place of residence, we developed a cooperation process. It involved an open and intense collaboration with the local community, teachers, administration and, especially, the children. The process went through stages of research, immersion and teamwork with all those involved, through workshops and dynamics in which a common understanding of the problem and its possible solutions, arising from the dialogue between the contemporary technique and the rich local vernacular knowledge, were sought. Nature: In the context of the Brazilian Amazonian Savannah, nature is understood as “the wild”, and is constantly replaced by plantations. The exuberant forest`s maintenance is implied as a delay, while its beauty is reduced to sporadic exogenous flower gardens. Thus, the project aims to create a new perspective of progress, establishing a more open dialogue between nature, the built environment and the local people`s needs. Industrialization: Industrialization was a necessity, considering the scarse time -14 months to build 23,344.17m2- long distances to be covered and the need for precision and standardization. Therefore, the design unfolds in a set of repeated and assembled pieces, made mostly of wood or compressed earth blocks using local soil. These elements constitute both the spatiality of the building and are also a possible model of simple construction techniques to be spread among the local community.
The immensity of Brazilian tropical savanna, the sky`s infinity and the popular knowledge. It is the continuum, the vast and a thin imaginary line in the background that welcome the journey and the experience of Brazilians living in the central region of the country. The architecture proposed there could not be distinct from such conformation. It is the immeasurable and the beauty of its inhabitants that moves us. However, how should one deal with this site, where the current culture is blindly modernized in a search of a mass-reproduced dream? How could architecture become relevant to this location marked by rural and indigenous memories, techniques, aesthetics and rhythms? How to build in a distant place like Formoso do Araguaia where the closest city with batch plants is 50 miles away? With these inquiries, the project to house the 540 children who study at Canuanã boarding-school, aims towards transformation, cultural rescue, encouragement of local constructive techniques and industrialization, together with the construction of a notion of self–esteem and belonging, necessary for the children's development.
The design for the new villages helped to increase the children's self-esteem, individuality, sense of belonging, responsibility for the environment and overall academic performance. The dialogue established with teachers and students during the entire process (project, construction and occupation) enabled for a balance of expectations as well as a deepened understanding of the children`s needs and an opportunity for their ongoing education. The project reached the expectations of improvement in the thermal comfort aspect, reducing considerably the internal temperature of the dwellings through simple techniques of pressure differentiation, shadowing and ventilation. The generosity of the covered space around the rooms allowed for a large area protected from the strong insolation, which proved to be a very useful space for the unfolding games invented by the children. The natural materials used, invite the touch and provide for a pleasant humane scale, suitable to the children`s development. With the repetition of vertical elements, it was possible to blur the building boundaries, creating porosity and a freer dialogue with the surrounding environment, thus answering to the challenge of placing a large program in a smaller scale setting. In this way, the project met the expectations of the commissioners and users while introducing the possibility for an industrialized architectural process using natural elements tightly knit to the local knowledge. The building of two villages in such a relevant scale started to produce an echo of incentive for research of renewable sources and, hopefully, will inspire a more contextual operation by Brazilian architects.