2022

MCHAP

BONFIM SACRED HILL URBAN RENEWAL

Sotero Arquitetos

Salvador, Brazil

October 2019

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Adriano Mascarenhas

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Sotero Arquitetos Team

CLIENT

Mario Leal Ferreira Foundation

PHOTOGRAPHER

Leonardo Finotti

OBJECTIVE

Given its peculiar nature as National Cultural Heritage site, as well as the historic acknowledgment of its material and immaterial dimensions in collective memory, the Bonfim Renewal project sought to preserve and highlight this area. Its contemporary urban and architectural design took into reference the site’s landscape attributes, bolstering its attractiveness and influence, the usage of public spaces by citizens and, consequently, the sustainability of the site itself. One of the main intentions was to reduce, within the urban environment, usage conflicts that might affect the landscape, the visibility of the constructed areas, the conservation and maintenance of the protected site, starting with the replacement of areas dedicated to vehicles in order to prioritize the pedestrian scale and promote universal access and walkability. In addition, the design enabled the creation of spaces with infrastructure, encouraging sustained human presence and fruition of the public space in a symbiotic relationship with the site, as well as new routes leading to points of interest amongst the set. The proposal included reorganizing traffic, the creation of new parking, in order to accomodate tourist buses and bicycles. Some activities considered inadequate within and around Senhor do Bonfim were transferred to the public space, in order to neutralize the negative impact they brought upon the conservation of the building and its artifacts. Last, the design looked to preserve the historical elements of the site (fountain, colonial lamp posts, native vegetation, etc.), all whilst introducing new stuctures to accommodate religious events and express the symbolic This outline constitutes an example of gain of guided perception which is fundamental to the appreciation of the site by visitors. This corroborates the qualification of the public space, a mandatory aspect in contemporary city conceptualization. The target community showed great acceptance of the space – a factor that influenced the success of the new uses. Residents, devotees and tourists extended their stay in the space and incremented their use of it.
The Bonfim Festival, held yearly with an attendance of one million people, not only demonstrated the performance of the intervention, sans damage to property, but also showcased the potential uses with regards to the masses and a permanent public presence.

CONTEXT

The Senhor do Bonfim Sacred Hill is of fundamental religious, historical, cultural and social importance to the city of Salvador, capital of Bahia, and for embracing a coexistence of religious beliefs (Catholicism/Candomblé). The site recounts the life of devotees in the preachings of the cult founded by the Irmandade da Devoção do Senhor do Bonfim 269 years ago. Said hill constitutes a living memory, recreated via cultural manifestations it encompasses, as repesented by the Lavagem do Bonfim, which has been listed as national intangible heritage in 2013 due to its wealth of symbolism.
In the urban context prior to the intervention, the religious building was degrading rapidly due to the concentration and diversity of public activities held within, in addition to the conflicting uses that took place along its extended surroundings, whose infrastucture was of a disordered and precarious nature. Said setting compromised the preservation and appraisal of the heritage site, which lacked a general reform initiative.
The project covered an area of 36,000 m2. On display, the elements related to the ubiquitous syncretic imagery found on the Sacred Hill – the Christian worship of Senhor do Bonfim and devotion to Oxalá orixá by Candomblé practioners –, the Bonfim ribbon and the Opaxorô de Oxalá are stylized and integrated into the pavement design. The ribbon length, 45cm – the dimension of the arm on the Senhor do Bonfim image –, was adopted as modulation in the project, featured in the dimensions of the new urban furniture and other architectural elements.

PERFORMANCE

The Senhor do Bonfim Sacred Hill is of fundamental religious, historical, cultural and social importance to the city of Salvador, capital of Bahia, and for embracing a coexistence of religious beliefs (Catholicism/Candomblé). The site recounts the life of devotees in the preachings of the cult founded by the Irmandade da Devoção do Senhor do Bonfim 269 years ago. Said hill constitutes a living memory, recreated via cultural manifestations it encompasses, as repesented by the Lavagem do Bonfim, which has been listed as national intangible heritage in 2013 due to its wealth of symbolism.
In the urban context prior to the intervention, the religious building was degrading rapidly due to the concentration and diversity of public activities held within, in addition to the conflicting uses that took place along its extended surroundings, whose infrastucture was of a disordered and precarious nature. Said setting compromised the preservation and appraisal of the heritage site, which lacked a general reform initiative.
The project covered an area of 36,000 m2. On display, the elements related to the ubiquitous syncretic imagery found on the Sacred Hill – the Christian worship of Senhor do Bonfim and devotion to Oxalá orixá by Candomblé practioners –, the Bonfim ribbon and the Opaxorô de Oxalá are stylized and integrated into the pavement design. The ribbon length, 45cm – the dimension of the arm on the Senhor do Bonfim image –, was adopted as modulation in the project, featured in the dimensions of the new urban furniture and other architectural elements.