Disconnected Favelas

In 2011, as part of Rio’s growth acceleration program (PAC), an aerial tramway (the Complexo de Alemao Teleferico) was constructed across the favela. Residents’ requests for improved access to municipal and private services as well as waste management were ignored. This project, titled Vila Isabela Transport Service Exchange, investigates the introduction of a responsive transport and service network across Rio to link the disconnected favelas to the surrounding formal barrio, in two phases.

The first project considers the potential of using these existing infrastructural arteries as ways to draw in desirable services to the neighbourhood, repurposing the supporting pylons as access towers so that the lines bring not just transport links, but also modular medical clinics and shops. This is developed through envisaging the construction of more complex turning stations across the peaks of Rio’s undulating topography. From these points, connecting lines are strung across the favelas, weaving a city-wide web of modular shops, services and goods transport accessible via structural pylons.

The second project grows from this speculative test bed, aiming to design one of five key interchanges. At Vila Isabela, the private cable car network above allows for the creation of a public sports complex sheltered between two communities and aimed at encouraging interaction, stitching together the seams of the fractured city. The building is intended as an escape from the warrens of the favela: its smooth, sculptural concrete curves echo previous Brazilian styles and draw residents from the northern favela and south barrio to meet at the football stadium below the canopy of a suspended, shifting market place.

At points the systems are separate, with transport terminals, market access platforms and sports pitches separated; around the stadium, the stands rise up and fuse with the module rails, allowing additional services and stands to grow at peak times or during a game. Once the spectacle is finished, this temporary and opportunistic swarm of modules would disperse again across the network to meet demands elsewhere.

All images courtesy of Ben Sykes-Thompson

The Bartlett School of Architecture, Unit 2