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"Ferry Plaza City": New micro-infrastructures for Rio de Janeiro

Part 2 Project 2009
Asako Hayashi
Architectural Association London UK
In contrast to the massive and environmentally-destructive elevated-highway imposed onto the city in the 1960s, and positioned against the banal gentrification of proposed privatized waterfront-redevelopment transportation-hub designs, this project instead creates ecological ‘micro-infrastructures’ to negotiate between, and empower, local informal market-owners and smaller cultural institutions, with the more formal public and private sector developments in the destitute post-industrial Port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In the last decade, Rio de Janeiro urban planners tunneled the busy street and bus-stop under this elevated highway that divides a ferry terminal from the rest of the city, creating a vast open plaza. Yet this formal European model for public space failed in Rio de Janeiro’s hot climate and informal culture, as today, this un-programmed open-area is a large heat island and an insecure residual space within the city.

In reaction, this project articulates this boundary space between city and port, by extending and integrating the programs of the existing overcrowded ferry terminal into the dysfunctional plaza, while weaving in and extending both existing informal market sequences as well as formal urban programs, so as to create a type of ‘Ferry Plaza City’.

These different programs and circulation flows are coordinated by using multiple corrugating grounds which synchronize, shade, and ventilate different speeds of activities as well as both artificial and natural landscapes.

More sensitive and efficient than the current large-scale and striated infrastructures, these micro-infrastructure corrugations choreograph the arrivals, departures, ticket-purchase and waiting areas for the ferry ships and buses within newly shaded and ventilated urban sequences that extend space for market stalls, so to further empower local inhabitants, and also provide protected access and thus new value for existing historical monuments on the plaza, whilst intermixing with new public programs like a library and amphitheaters.

This project links the city to the sea, and proposes a new type of mediation between tourists and locals, as well as a new environmentally-sensitive way to negotiate between the public, private and informal sectors, by creating monitored spaces for vibrant social enterprise to empower the poor local inhabitants of the Port of Rio de Janeiro.

Asako Hayashi


As Brazil flourishes as an important emerging market, preparing to host the 2014 World Cup and bidding to host the 2016 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro struggles with the discrepancies between its first and third world economies. Indeed, Rio is a city of polarizing extreme environmental, social and formal conditions. The white-washed Niemeyer monuments, flashy samba tourism, and monolithic linear infrastructure, all completely ignore the reality of drug-lord shootings in the favelas, informal markets in the decaying port, and overheating from the hot climate.

This student`s extremely sensitive and innovative project offers a compelling way to mediate between these extremes, by helping to improve the economic conditions of local inhabitants through providing new facilities for partially-subsidized market stalls, educational and cultural programs, which are integrated with and are animated by the flows of both tourists and local commuters in this new type of urban transportation infrastructure.

The project employs the rich precedent of Niemeyer’s fluid `ground` organizations, transforming them to be more ecologically and socially responsive, by articulating different scaled corrugations and bifurcations so to create a tropical spatial choreography of climatic and circulatory flows. Rigorous environmental analysis and testing, as well as scripted solar-controlled parametric modeling, are used to accurately calibrate the angles of the corrugations and panel subdivisions to shade spaces from the harsh sun, while still allowing for reflected diffused light to naturally illuminate the multiple levels of the project. The smooth funneling undulations of new multiple grounds induce natural cooling ventilation from sea-breezes and bring a new organizational inter-modality between ferries, buses and pedestrians. The project activates the plaza with shaded programmed sequences to navigate commuters and tourists alike amongst the previously-ignored historical civic buildings. Built with locally sourced sustainable glue-laminated wood beams and panels, the steep slopes of structurally optimized arches are transformed into accessible ramped slopes with the introduction of structural corrugations.

In the place of existing mono-programmatic and striated structures, this student has invented a new type of infrastructural system with the use of intricate `micro-infrastructures` that elegantly integrate local cultures, climates and economies.

Tutor(s)
Mr Franklin Lee
Ms Anne Save de Beaurecueil
2009
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