Editorial

The Architecture of Change

The Architecture of Change

On the border of the Amazon Forest, an award-winning project makes the dream of every architect come true: changing society through architecture

T

he judges of RIBA Prize probably did not imagine that, to take a look one of the projects in their final shortlist, they would have had to go as far as to the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, in northern Brazil, a few hundred kilometers north of Brasilia. And yet, right here in this remote part of the world with such an extreme climate condition, they saw the greatest ambition of architecture materialize: becoming a tool for social change

The Children Village is a building complex designed to accommodate over 500 children between 13 and 18 years during the school week. Each of them gets there via long and difficult routes, and along streets often made impracticable by the weather, the heavy rains and an average temperature above 40 Celsius degrees. But once they get there, they’ll find is a "home away from home" where they can study and be together, sleep in comfortable rooms and share recreational spaces. Acknowledging of the value of education as a driving force for the human and professional growth of young people, the Bradesco Foundation, which commissioned the project, has accompanied and assisted over 100,000 children in their path of education since 1956, bringing schools and accommodation to the most remote areas of Brazil.
Architecture studios Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum have given form to this ambition and chosen a precise path, using materials, shapes and structures that are typical of traditional Brazilian architecture, and changed them to meet the specific needs of the place. The two main buildings that make up the Children Village, identical and specular, are made with local raw materials processed using local techniques. Blocks of soil have been turned into walls with natural thermoregulating properties and local wood has been used for the frame in order to make the buildings look familiar to the community and blend with the surrounding landscape. 

With "humble heroism", as the award jury pointed out, the designers integrated local materials and building techniques into contemporary aesthetics, putting themselves in the shoes of the boys and girls who will experience this place on an everyday basis to allow them to feel comfortable and at ease.

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