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São Paulo, Brazil


Gabriela Callejas, Fábio Mariz (thesis advisor) – University of São Paulo

Designing on the limit

"Designing on the limit: defining boundaries for the Carmo Environmental Protection Area" is a graduation project, which received an honorable mention at the Opera Prima 2010, the architecture students’ national competition. The project zooms in and out, from the planning to the architectural scale, to address the (re)definition of the boundaries of an environmental sensitive area, which is at risk due to the continuously growth of unplanned settlements along Aricanduva River.

Located in Sao Paulo’s east zone, at the Aricanduva River drainage basin, the Carmo Environmental Protection Area (APA do Carmo) surroundings has faced huge demographic densification due to metropolitan infrastructure expansion and unplanned growth.

The project addresses these issues by redesigning the fringe of the river, in order to re-establish a clear limit between open and built areas. Moreover, it defines a set of strategies to guide densification and the redevelopment of private and public land in the site, by: (1) defining new zoning and density guidelines; (2) creating green and blue networks, through the implementation of a linear park along the river, wetlands and promoting urban agriculture; and, finally, (3) redefining street typologies to encourage walking and access to transit.

Zooming in, the project redefines the housing blocks. While designing the streetscape, the boundaries of this area were re-defined in order to create clear limits between the public, the private and the shared private areas. Rather than a single block, the complex was organized as a sum of buildings of different sizes and unique housing layouts.

At the building scale, the project a great variety of housing options to the local dwellers. Based on the information collected from the local census, social workers could collaborate with on-site architects to accommodate the local families on specific housing typologies. From a common basic structure, the design of each of the units will vary according to each family´s spatial and financial needs (e.g. space for a small shop, more or fewer bedrooms, etc). Another key aspect of the project is that the housing units can evolve with time, adapting to the also evolving needs.

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