Transforming under-utilized areas into attractive, high-quality, sustainable places

In Rio de Janeiro, negative aspects of the recent spread of the urban area of the city into an extense territory – caracterized by severe environmental consequences of these extended peripheries and a very low quality of life, including mobility problems, for people who live in the peripheral urban areas -can be dealt by a major investment in other city areas. Many areas nearest the centre and with more infraestructure would be apropriate to expand a mix occupation (residencial, comerce and services), if only they could receive some proper urban intervention, including enough adequate public space.
The surroundings of Morro da Conceição – a historical and cultural heritage, situated in the harbour area, have a large potencial for densification and to present funcional diversification, conforming a new centrality, probably contributing to diminuish the sprawlling situation in Rio de Janeiro. This area apart from being a landmark of the inicial city ocuppation, takes part in a large governamental project aimed to turn the harbour area a dinamic area in the process of leaving a legacy in the Olympic Games in 2016.

The Morro da Conceição and its surrounds presents an urban fabric remnant of Portuguese heritage in the way of enplane their cities on the slopes. The area over the hill is predominantly residential despite the proximity to the Central Business District. That is a singular residential area in Rio de Janeiro for income-medium and low population groups, representing a priceless heritage, cultural and landscape of the city. However, on the fringes of its slopes there is a situation that is similar to the areas outside the center which lost over time its urban function. So it can be observed empty areas that sometimes are used only for parking lots, abandoned warehouses, absence of conservation in many buildings and public spaces and disability services that imply in urban insecurity and loss of opportunity.
Despite the manifesto governmental interest in environmental protection and revitalization of these areas is present for decades, only now under the project called Porto Maravilha, the urban restructuring works began effectively seeking to correct many of these problems. But much remains to be done, and one of the problems easily detected is the absence or insufficient involvement of residents, who should be its main beneficiaries.
The studio is constituted by 27 students cordinated by 2 permanent teachers, 1 assistant teacher, 1 assistant student, and some other teachers from diferent disciplines are invited for take part in specific interventions.
Everybody work together at the studio 3hours/week and dedicate 3 more hours for the outside activities, such as visiting the site, talking to the area residents, etc.
The proposal is to develop design projects for the renovation and organization of Rio’s central area through URBAN INTERVENTIONS that envolve the urban, the architecture and the landscape disciplines.
The Project’s guiding ENPHASES are:
• The relationship between Design and the city
• Contact with the area users and residents
• Articulation between THEORETICAL CONTENTS and DESIGN

The subject is constituted of two modules:
. The first one is called LEARNING FROM THE PLACE and the purpose is to identify the area urban issues and itsimpediments and potential.
. The second one is the DESIGN PROJECT DEVELOPMENT, when it is to define an URBAN STRATEGYand to elaborate the design proposals.

The discussion of theoretical concepts and the analysis of reference design projects are considered essential tools along the entire process.

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