“Escola de Música” in the community of Paraisópolis in São Paulo was selected to receive the Global Holcim Awards Silver 2012 out of more than 6,000 competition entries from all over the world. The speakers at the prize handover event at CEU included Gilberto Kassab, Mayor of São Paulo, Elisabete França, Deputy Secretary of Housing of the City of São Paulo, and Joildo Santos on behalf of the Paraisópolis community. The internationally-acclaimed project expands sustainability beyond the management of natural resources and into the realm of social sustainability.
The Global Holcim Awards Silver 2012 was presented to architects Alfredo Brillembourg (Venezuela/Switzerland), Hubert Klumpner (Austria/Switzerland) and their multinational design team at Urban-Think Tank (U-TT), Brazil for an Urban remediation and civic infrastructure hub: Grotão – Fábrica de Música (music school). The project will include a terraced public space with areas for urban agriculture, a water management system, a public amphitheater, a music school, a small concert hall, sports facilities, public spaces and transport infrastructure. It will prevent further erosion and dangerous mudslides on the steep slopes and provide social and cultural infrastructure.
The project was praised for its unifying concept, premium cultural facilities, architectural quality, and integrated involvement of the local community in a socially-inclusive planning and management approach. Aaron Betsky (USA), Director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, and representative of the Global Holcim Awards jury, explained how the infrastructure hub would address environmental challenges. “The project structure retains and stabilizes the area’s challenging topography, creating a green island in a terraced public space,” he said.
Holcim CEO, Bernard Fontana (Switzerland), congratulated the prize winners for applying architectural quality and contextual awareness to the project. “We see sustainability not as a technical challenge but as a professional attitude of all building professionals that leads to a higher quality of life – in developing countries, emerging economies, and industrialized nations alike,” he said.
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner presented their winning project to around 200 attendees, and explained the inter-linkage between the various elements of the urban remediation concept. “We need the sports facilities so that the older kids have a reason to bring their younger siblings to music class,” they said.
The project aims to contribute to the formation of a socially-viable environment by providing public space for productive community engagement, which will deliver enhanced opportunities to the many inhabitants of the favela. In the regional phase of the Holcim Awards 2011, this project won gold for Latin America and thereby qualified for the Global Holcim Awards competition.
The prize hand-over ceremony was hosted by Holcim Brazil and featured musical entertainment by the Paraisópolis Youth Orchestra and a performance by the Paraisópolis Youth Ballet – both of which will benefit from the new civic infrastructure hub where they will be able to use spaces established and reserved for their activities on a permanent basis. The merits of the project, however, go much further, as was highlighted in the speeches by Joildo Santos (Paraisópolis community), Marcelo Takaoka (CBCS), Paulo Simão (CIBIC), Elisabete França (SEHAB), Mayor Gilberto Kassab, and Otmar Hübscher (Holcim Brazil).