“The international recognition of the LafargeHolcim Awards has motivated us keep on fighting to make our project become a reality,” said Sol Camacho and Jonathan Franklin as they received their Global Awards 2018 finalist certificate from Juliana Adrigueto and Bruna Mattos, representing LafargeHolcim in Brazil. The design for a mixed-use civic hub with durable, low-maintenance architecture and long-term financing in the neighborhood of Paraisópolis in São Paulo had received the Awards Silver for Latin America in 2017.
The main difference between the prize-winning PIPA (Projeto que Integra Paraisópolis) project and many others that seek to improve conditions for the inhabitants of informal settlements is that there is no lack of funds: Exxpon, a real estate investment company co-funded by Jonathan Franklin, has all funds required to complete the project of set aside as “patient capital” through long-term financing that accepts a slower financial break-even to achieve permanent social impact. Legal and other restrictions have drawn out the process to obtain the necessary construction permissions for years – despite Sol Camacho already making numerous changes to the design, and having the full support of the local community.
“Community Capital” in Brazil will turn a large part of a centrally located 7,000 square-meter plot into desperately needed public space. The underlying idea is as simple as it is sustainable. The retail space will generate rental income and bring goods into the informal neighborhood that is home to the more than 100,000 inhabitants of Paraisópolis, the rest of the spaces will be open to the public.
Going for “Plan B”
“Giving up was never an option, we are going to make this happen,” explained Sol Camacho, architect, urban planner and founding Director of RADDAR (Research As Design/Design As Research). Together with her husband Jonathan Franklin she reduced the project to a collection of temporary interventions that require far fewer permits from city authorities. The large plot of land that currently serves mainly as a car park and is surrounded by informal houses that are growing closer and higher by the day, will initially be turned into public space for diverse purposes including a football field, gardens, and spaces for meetings, performances, etc. At the same time, shipping containers will be refurbished to offer retail space on site – and generate the revenue required to maintain the public space. In-line with one of the main wishes of the inhabitants, a two-story ballet dance school will be built on the premises, using a (con)temporary light wooden structure.
Bringing innovation and sustainability together
On behalf of LafargeHolcim, sponsor of the international Awards competition, Juliana Adrigueto, Public Affairs & Sustainable Development Director of LafargeHolcim Brazil, complemented the authors for their prize-winning project and in particular for not giving up on turning a set of excellent ideas into reality. “Projects like PIPA bring innovation and sustainable solutions together in the same way as LafargeHolcim strives to do this in our daily business,” she added.
Homage to the Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi
Sol Camacho is also the Cultural Director of the Instituto Lina Bo Bardi located a stone’s throw away from the neighborhood of Paraisópolis on a hill top. The Italian-born modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi lived here in an iconic glass house (Casa de Vidro, 1951) until her death in 1992. One of her best-known buildings is the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo (MASP, 1968) for which her husband Pietro Maria Bardi, at the time director and curator of the museum, was her client. As a pioneer of sustainable architecture, Lina Bo Bardi devoted her life to the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. Sol Camacho admires her work and achievements within the profession and stated that her own approach to architecture is strongly influenced by Lina Bo Bardi. The same applies for the dependencies of the PIPA project: Her husband is her client!