“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!See more
The situation in most informal settlements is out of control: The residents urgently need help to improve their living conditions – but complicated legal issues and diverse interests prevent people from realizing beneficial projects. Resolution and endurance is required, as the project PIPA in Paraisópolis shows.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines informal settlements as “areas where groups of housing units have been constructed on land that the occupants have no legal claim to” or as “unplanned settlements and areas where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations.” Informal settlements are therefore a symptom of urban development failure. They can be found in many major cities in developing countries, where the prospect of work and income has drawn multitudes from rural areas into the cities.
The UN report “Habitat III” of 2015 estimates that in these countries around 70 million people move to urban areas each year. In Latin America, about a quarter of the urban population now lives in favelas – the term “favela” is derived from a robust shrub that grew on the hills where the informal settlements were built in the early 1900s in Rio.
Sol Camacho is an architect and urban designer. She received her Bachelor of Architecture at Mexico City’s Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO) and graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design with a Master of Urban Design. Her professional career includes work as an independent architect and various collaborative projects with well-known architects in Mexico, the USA, Brazil and France. She has worked at TEN Arquitectos in Mexico City, Skidmore Owings & Merill (SOM) in New York, the Architecture Studio in Paris, and other offices. Today, Sol Camacho runs her own architectural firm Raddar in São Paulo.
Jonathan Franklin holds a degree in industrial engineering also from IBERO and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, USA. Franklin has worked as an analyst within Merrill Lynch’s financial institutions and mergers and acquisitions for Latin America in New York. After moving to Brazil, he became co-founder of Exxpon, a real estate development company in São Paulo. Sol Camacho and Jonathan Franklin are married and the parents of two children.See more
As one of the three main LafargeHolcim Awards winners for Latin America in 2017, “Community Capital” automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global LafargeHolcim Awards 2018. All 15 finalist project teams were asked to submit an updated and more comprehensive entry that was evaluated by a global jury in March 2018.
The results of the global phase of the 5th LafargeHolcim Awards competition were announced on March 28, 2018.
With their project, Sol Camacho Davalos and Jonathan Franklin from São Paulo aim to contribute a lasting improvement to the Paraisópolis favela in the Brazilian metropolitan area. The neighborhood center encompasses three buildings and includes a dance school, an auditorium, commercial space, and more. “The intelligence of the economic architecture is matched by robust building forms that house activities determined by the community,” found the jury.Read more » más información (Spanish) »
Part of a long-term neighborhood upgrading process, the project is a mixed use civic hub. Across three adjacent buildings, it hosts, among other things, a dance school, auditorium, crèche, and commercial space. The design has been developed through collaboration between community organizations, a local architecture firm, and a private developer. The project is elaborated through time. Appropriation of the site through temporary events and structures makes the site a social space before construction even commences. Coinciding with a long-term investing model – “patient capital” – the durable, low-maintenance architecture foresees the popularity of the civic center for generations to come.Read more » más información (Spanish) » leia mais (Portuguese) »
Patient Capital, Inclusive Model
Building on the concept of the “patient capital”, Projeto Integral Paraisópolis Avança (PIPA) is invested in the long-term economic self-sufficiency of the project. The business plan redistributes the benefits generated by the retail uses to ensure the operational capacity of the cultural and educational programs. The architectural design responds to the financial logics of the project, addressing the retail optimization and efficiency to ensure the viability of the cultural and social programs, their adequate management and maintenance. While the project gains zoning approval, the site is already in use providing enough revenue to maintain the temporary programming. The parking use of part of the site subsidizes the ongoing cultural and social activities and maintenance of the space.
Building community capacity & addressing local needs
Through the processes of land assembly and public engagement developed during the last two years, PIPA has already become a center for debate, knowledge transfer and community empowerment. The site offers an open ground for different social activities in a highly congested area in the city, and enables community to participate, learn and share. By integrating a wide range of social organizations in the ongoing and future programming of the site, PIPA has become a critical social infrastructure for the exchange of ideas, service to the residents and sharing of local knowledge with academics and practitioners involved in research and design interventions in Paraisópolis. From the office located within the site, the local architect is directly engaged in the planning and participation of it.
Design process and embracing the local identities
PIPA is the architectural expression of a design-driven process of community engagement and innovative private investment in Special Interests Zones. The project uses local construction methods and materials, and integrates mechanisms for environmental performance and energy optimization. The different volumes incorporate a variety of uses and define a continuum of publicly accessible and inclusive open spaces. Sturdy materials in the lower levels address the projected heavy use and simple maintenance requirements. The different volumes define the parcel perimeter and provide a hierarchy of uses. The light central prism provides a dynamic background for the central open-air amphitheater. The porosity of the skin reveals the movements of the ballerinas and play of the children in the kindergarten.See more
A neighbourhood center in the Paraisópolis favela of São Paulo is designed around long-term financial viability says …
Neighborhood center in Paraisópolis, São Paulo, Brazil: Part of a long-term neighborhood upgrading process, the project …
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