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Studio Sangue Bom Envisions Projects For Rio De Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, MARCH 2011

Central Futuros: Tiradentes is the third iteration of Studio Sangue Bom, an ongoing series of crossequatorial studio and exchange cycles. The Studio traveled to Brazil in March 2011 to examine and develop projects for Rio de Janeiro. Kyra Thomas, MSAAD '11, describes the experience:

Know by carioca’s as cidade maravilhos, or the marvelous city, Rio de Janeiro with its breathtaking topography of mountains is vibrant with music, color and vivacity. Despite a violent history and somewhat dangerous reputation, it is a city that captures one’s imagination and heart. Change and rapid urban development in Brazil is inevitable with the upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016 and Rio is at the center of it. In fact, it will be the first city in South America to have ever held the summer or winter Olympics.

It was in this moment of culture and at the epicenter of urban change that Studio X was launched on 16th March 2011. Off the historic Praça Tiradentes in Rio’s commercial Centro zone, Studio X opened to the hum of floor fans circulating dense and humid air, to samba beats, to the thirst quenching caiprihianas raising toasts, and to the hopeful and positive words of Dean Wigley and director of Studio X Rio Pedro Rivera. Occupying the former residence of Bidu Sanyo, one of Brazil’s greatest opera singers, the Studio X space embodies within it the music and history of Rio. The opening fortuitously coincided with the Kinne travel trip of the Advanced Architecture Studio 6 - Studio Sangue Bom (Studio of Good Blood) lead by Keith Kaseman + Raul Correa-Smith of the Brazilian/US collaboration Faiscas (Faiscas.org). The fourth installment of their Rio Studio has involved twelve GSAPP students and aims to re-imagine how people live and can be accommodated, a neighborhood of contested public space and the negotiation between the two.

Up until the 20th century Praça Tiradentes was the cultural hub and theatre district of Rio de Janeiro. While the area is rich with history and bustles with activity during the day currently at night it is devoid of activity. As the popularity of film increased in the 1930s movie theatres were built specific to the requirements of film and the Tiradentes area became less and less populated. As the space became increasingly desolate and dilapidated incidents of violence augmented. To barricade against the rising crime levels and to prevent the homeless sleeping there at night, the square was fenced off during the 1990s.

There has been consistent lobbying, over the last few decades, to the local government to re-establish and revive the area but the major restoration efforts of the 18th century townhouses have come from significant private investment. After great anticipation the fence is finally in the first stages of removal as part of a government backed investment that will see the square partially pedestrianised and the once dilapidated area is now being given a fresh start.  The breakdown of the fence boundary is a gesture filled with hope and positivity for the rejuvenation of the area. Using a set of twelve vacant sites adjacent to and within the general proximity of Tiradentes the students visited Rio to explore and research the area with the aim of reimagining the question of accommodation in Centro. Studio Sangue Bom took centre stage amid the opening festivities of Studio X to present their mid review as an open forum discussion with Carioca architects, professors, students and other locals of the Tiradentes area. The aim of the mid review was to spark questions as to the way in which people live and are accommodated in the zone of Tiradentes. Each studio project offered a different set of scenarios which intended to invert, refine and imagine a new kind of urban living. Considering the increasing numbers of people visiting Rio for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics and the thousands of weekly displaced locals who are homeless during the week while working in the city, the projects offered a variety of imaginative suggestions for change.

The mid review consisted of a unique presentation mode of a series of postcards which were both hung on the walls and strewn across conference tables. A flash card set of ideas were presented in a rapid fashion to encourage the imagination and creativity of all those present as a workshop session. It was designed for quick interaction and exchange to stimulate conversation between the students and all attending audience members. The local carioca audience gave insight far beyond the initial scope of the project intention. Each thought or idea was challenged or heightened by an interesting anecdote, suggestion or addition that either strengthened, collapsed or countered our preconceptions and ideas making it a critical and fascinating experience.

To be on the ground in Brazil discussing architectural opportunities was an incredible opportunity and experience for the students of Studio Sangue Bom. Many thanks to all those involved in both the organization and coordination of the Kinne travel for the studio and the opening of Studio X, with special thanks to Pedro Rivera, Keith Kaseman + Raul Correa-Smith for making the trip possible.

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