Fundamentally geared as an exchange cycle of spatial questions and ideas pointed toward the future city, Studio Sangue Bom has been deeply engaged with Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, since 2009. As an Advanced Architecture Studio at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), our prime objective has always been to deliver projections
that may spark new forms of dialogue and reach far beyond typical realms of architectural participation
. In doing so, Studio Sangue Bom has been privileged to perform a wide variety of experiments with new operational models and exchange formats, all of which have been instrumental in boosting and recalibrating its drivetrain.
Most recently, and as a key component of the much larger Studio-X Rio RdP Initiative, Studio Sangue Bom VI focused on an absolutely incredible slice of the city called Rio das Pedras (RdP). A super lively informal community on Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone, Rio das Pedras is one of the fastest-growing communities in the city. Ranked the third largest favela in Brazil, with an estimated population of between eighty thousand and a hundred thousand, its urban fabric is remarkably dense, diverse, and rich, with a seemingly endless array of extreme spatial permutations. While most informal communities in Rio de Janeiro are primarily located on the steep incline of its hillsides and mountains, Rio das Pedras is predominantly situated on a flat, extensive marshland at the edge of Tijuca Lake. This terrain condition has perpetuated a host of complex structural and infrastructural challenges, perhaps most notably including buildings that sink into the ground as they grow in height over time and an extensively polluted river (Rio das Pedras’s namesake) that dumps raw sewage into Tijuca Lake.
At the same time, Rio das Pedras carries a cultural vibrancy that is unique within Rio de Janeiro, as the great majority of its population is either first- or second-generation Nordestinos, people from Brazil’s northeastern states. Coupling this special charge with its approximately four thousand thriving businesses, a dynamically complex real estate system, its key location in the West Zone, and inevitable growth, it becomes clear that Rio das Pedras is poised for a future that has yet to be fully imagined.
Developing and delivering ideas for a new type of “Market-Matrix +,” Studio Sangue Bom VI held its midsemester mixer in March 2014 at CAIC, a municipal high school in the heart of Rio das Pedras. With thirty stellar students as our primary critics and collaborators, we set out to spark a productively chaotic exchange session as our initial handshake with this amazing place.