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Housing Sustainable Urban Development

Quito, Ecuador
Oct 17, 2016 - Oct 20, 2016
Studio-X Rio at UN Habitat III

Studio-X Rio / GSAPP is participating as an exhibitor in the United Nations Habitat III conference on Housing Sustainable Urban Development. Held in Quito, Ecuador, from October 17th to 20th, the event only happens every 20 years and brings together planners, architects, governments, decision makers and communities to think together the challenges and opportunities of our cities.

Studio-X Global Network is aligned with this agenda and have been investigating cities in different regions of the world. Over the 5 past years Studio-X Rio has focused on four themes: Housing the Majority, Sustainable Mobility, Green Infrastructure and Bottom-Up Initiatives, presented at the exhibition. The work was made possible by 300+ collaborators, including GSAPP faculty and students (represented in this exhibition by UP, UD and AAD studios), local and international partners. The participation in the Habitat III straightens and amplifies this network.

Studio-X Rio main topics:


The world’s urban population has been undergoing an unprecedented increase, mainly in the countries of the Global South, as indicated by UN reports. In this scenario, there will be a growing demand for housing and cities will have to respond to this challenge in an efficient and sustainable manner.

In this context, Housing the Majority is a joint initiative by the Studio-X Global Network, initiated in 2015 by a large conference at Columbia University, where guests from all over the world got the opportunity to debate the pressing issue of housing.

Motivated by this issue, from 2015 to 2016, Studio-X Rio investigated social movements that fight for housing on the local level, resulting in the exhibition Fight, Squat, Resist, as well as a series of lectures and debates.

Studio-X Rio’s studies inspired two GSAPP studios, which dealt with the theme in detail. The Master of Architecture Advanced Studio VI addressed the occupations of social movements to propose hybrid residential infrastructures. Meanwhile, the Master in Urban Planning, Advanced Studio IV worked directly with the movements to address the issue of the right to the city, suggesting more inclusive measures for housing policies in Brazil.

In its new phase, the study provides continuity to the theme dedicated to projects of social habitation, with a focus on matters that involve the project of architecture, its ambitions and reality.


Over the last ten years, the number of cars circulating in Brazil’s big cities has increased drastically. In cities like Rio de Janeiro, the amount of automobiles has risen by roughly 50%, with serious impacts on urban life. The incentive to alternative mobility is fundamental in guaranteeing advances not only in terms of sustainable development, but also in the very way people make use of the city.

The initiative known as Ciclo Rotas Centro emerged from a demand from Rio de Janeiro’s cycling community and was coordinated by the Active Transport Association, ITDP Brasil and Studio-X Rio, with support from Banco Itaú. It proposed a network of bikeways in the city center and was realized in an entirely collaborative manner, through debates and workshops. The result, exhibited at Studio-X Rio in 2012, was included in the municipal planning, and a small part of it has already been executed.


In recent years, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have been experiencing a serious water crisis which compromised their supplies of potable water. Imagining new models of green infrastructure is a necessary condition to incorporate nature as an integral part of the urban “mechanism,” in search of solutions that produce a better quality of life in cities and which solidify and connect their communities.

The study Água Carioca, conducted by Dutch firm Ooze Architects, has been investigating the use of constructed wetlands as an alternative for domestic sewage treatment. In 2013, an initial exhibition was held at Studio-X Rio and a prototype is currently being executed at Sítio Roberto Burle. In addition to Studio-X Rio, the study is also supported by Creative Funds and the Dutch Consulate.

The M.S. In Architecture and Urban Design at Columbia University addressed the theme of water in the Water Urbanism Studio. With the proposal of envisioning infrastructures as elements of the landscape, students produced a series of essays on the Paraíba River macro-basin and four adjacent cities located in the corridor between Rio and São Paulo, understanding this territory as the “expanded metropolis.”


The population’s active participation in decision making and the transformations of its cities, still understood as alternative, should be central to all environmental and social agendas. It strengthens the communities and produces resilience.

Studio-X’s unifying character naturally attracts a variety of communities interested in promoting participatory incentives, with which the studio collaborates in diverse manners, including interventions in the public space, workshops, meetings and studies.

In 2015, Studio-X Rio established an association with other local organizations with the purpose of activating Praça Tiradentes, the city square where it is based. Once a month, they organize an event open to the public called Tiradentes Cultural Occupation which features music, performances, workshops and food. The event has already become a part of the city’s calendar.