Architects propose solutions for Rio

Architects make proposals to improve Cariocas’ lives through urban interventions – O Globo

Did you know that going on an outing between São Cristóvão and Santa Cruz can say more about the history of the Empire than any other area? All these ideas are in the heads of the architects that O Globo invited to propose projects capable of creating scenarios and solutions that would make Cariocas’ lives more functional, intelligent and even more enchanting, if that’s possible.

From the drawing boards, suggestions appeared that could promote true revolutions, from the Zona Sul to the Zona Norte. Among them are proposals to pump new energy into the Port Region – which is currently undergoing a crisis, but is considered one of the most important urban interventions in recent history, ever since the Pereira Passos reform in the early 20th century. Or an ambitious and inspired plan to reclaim the nobility of the Caminho Imperial, with the urban transformation of a 60 kilometer stretch, from the former residence of the Royal Family, where the National Museum in Quinta da Boa Vista stands today (?), to the Fazenda Real de Santa Cruz, transformed into an Army post.

And there was no lack of daring. For our dreamers, it’s also worth persisting with what didn’t work. This is the case, for example, for the project to replace the Tim Maia Bike Lane, which collapsed in 2016, with another that would guarantee the kind of safety required by the landscape.

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The Dream of Making Martin Luther King Greener

Architect Washington Fajardo has a dream: to see the revitalization of one of the main roads of the Zona Norte – Avenida Pastor Martin Luther King Jr, previously Avenida Automóvel Club. There are 13 kilometers that pass through 11 neighborhoods, from Del Castilho to Pavuna. It’s a journey with bumpy roads, surrounded by slums, and abandoned. In his opinion, the route is very important for the city, it has a good number of stores and subway stations, but there are several idle and underutilized areas that surround it.

“It’s chaotic, disorganized, with no urban amenities, no places to meet people, relax, stroll, or play sports.” An absurd urban waste. We could install a Green Line there, as originally conceived in the Doxiadis Plan (made by Greek urbanist Constantino Doxiadis and commissioned by Carlos Lacerda in the 1960s), with an emphasis on urban afforestation, says Fajardo.

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A Royal Road that Connects the Past and Future

To think about the future, the city must not neglect the past. For this reason, architect Rodrigo Bertamé, a member of Rio’s Council of Architecture and Urbanism, proposes the recovery of the Caminho Imperial. Marked with granite blocks, it was the route taken by the Imperial Family, from their residence in São Cristóvão (presently the National Museum, at Quinta da Boa Vista) to the Fazenda Real de Santa Cruz (now an Army post).

“This road currently passes through many city streets and has very little signage. There are only three colonial landmarks remaining. I suggest a revitalization, having as a premise a mobility system that shows an appreciation for bike paths and public transport, and an urban treaty that encourages and values buildings”, said Bertamé.

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More Life for the Renewed Port Region

The aim of a major revitalization project, with the removal of the Elevado da Perimetral, the design of a new waterfront and the inauguration of museums and an aquarium, the Port Zone changed its appearance and became popular with tourists and locals. In the evaluation of Luiz Fernando Janot, however, life is missing at the port. Therefore, it’s necessary to create a program to encourage the occupation of houses and other residential buildings in the region, so that there’s movement, even on weekends.

“I would create an urban plan, reviewing what was done, because there was an economic plan, which overlapped other aspects. That’s why it’s like this now, empty. We have to rethink this, doing a project with housing and commercial occupations in mind, giving support to office buildings”, he says.

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To Not Miss the Chance in a Panoramic City

Rio looks good in a picture at any angle, especially from the top of its hills. Author of the project Rio Cidade do Leblon, Luiz Eduardo Indio da Costa knows this well and imagined taking even more advantage of this panorama: he designed a circuit of aerial cable cars linking several mountains in Rio. The idea was placed on his drawing board after one of the many walks that the architect usually takes through the streets to think about the city. We need to take advantage of the topography, he believes.

“A potential urban intervention would be to execute my Rio Panorâmico project, which provides aerial cable cars through the chain of mountains that separate Copacabana from Botafogo. The proposal would extend the Sugarloaf cable car to the hills of Babilônia and Cantagalo, with a descent in Lagoa. The other, less viable circuit, would be over the forest through Alto da Boa Vista, dividing Itanhangá.”

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A Habitational Policy to Contain Favelas

With 763 favelas, Rio has the national title of the city with the largest population living in slums. According to the latest IBGE Census, from 2010, there are 1.3 million people living in these areas. Just in Rio das Pedras (slum), in Jacarepaguá, there are 80,000 people, according to city hall. The residents’ association there, however, estimates 140,000 inhabitants. It’s these figures that lead architect Giuseppe Badolato – who designed developments such as the one in the Cidade Alta, in Cordovil, and the one in City of God, in Jacarepaguá – to propose a “radical urbanization” of the favelas:

“Rio needs a short, medium and long-term housing policy that will halt the process of proliferation of new favelas. In existing ones, it’s necessary to open up avenues and access points, to avoid them being a hiding place for bandits.

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To Get on Track with a New Look and Comfort

Among the more than 100 stations on the railway line in the State of Rio, two in the city are small architectural jewels: the one on Marechal Hermes, from 1913, and the one at Olímpica do Engenho de Dentro, from 1937, which was remodeled for the 2016 Olympics. Both are protected by the municipality.

Architect Pedro da Luz, president of Brazil’s Institute of Architects, laments that such beauty is an exception to the rest of the railway network:

“I would implement an urban requalification of the railway, with the revitalization of the stations. We have beautiful stations, like Marechal Hermes and Engenho de Dentro, but we need to reform the whole system. Change the look. There are barbed-wire stations that look like concentration camps. There’s also a lack of comfort for passengers, because in many (stations) the benches are old.

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Insecurity and Abandon with Views of the Sea

On the seafront, between Leblon and São Conrado, facing an incomparable landscape, the Tim Maia Bicycle Lane does not have the kind of image that matches the landscape since a partial collapse that left two dead, three months after its inauguration in 2016. Partly restricted since then, what should be a ‘postcard’ became synonymous with abandonment. Director of the Association of Designers and Architects, architect Paula Neder suggests demolishing the structure, which “was poorly designed and poorly executed”:

“It’s a bold choice, but the bike path leaves everyone insecure. I believe in a new project, the result of an open competition, which, in addition to offering security, shows appreciation for what is one of the most beautiful views in the world, without preventing those who travel on Avenida Niemeyer from also appreciating it.”

A Right to the City

In a city full of ups and downs, urbanistic proposals are not lacking when experts think about the subject. Oscar Niemeyer’s great-grandson, architect Paulo Niemeyer confesses that it’s not easy to choose an intervention in a city lacking infrastructure, opportunities, and a “right to (make use of) the city.” Rio de Janeiro, like countless other cities, he says, has a lot to get done and in several areas.

“A place with enormous potential, if we consider the political, financial and cultural viability, would be Barra da Tijuca, where there is a lack of human scale, a lack of public spaces that are more democratic and accessible to all citizens. I understand that this reclamation, with the deserved improvement that contemporary society demands to update modernist utopia, would be an opportunity to become a model to replicate throughout the city.”

Source (PT)


Rio Olympics, one year later

I’ve been seeing articles and videos on the topic for a few months but I was waiting for one that could hit upon the zeitgeist. I think this 19-min report by China Global TV Network does a nice job of showing just that.

It’s sad to see but it’s not like this wasn’t the expected outcome. There are so many pressing issues but I feel like if public safety could be at least under control, it’d make a world of difference. For that to happen, police presence would have to be increased by 10 times.

The Etymology of Rio


Below, I went through the etymology of many names that will be familiar to those that know Rio de Janeiro. You’ll find that, where possible, they adhere to the format below and, in some cases, they include other details. The list below is not all-inclusive.

Current: Portuguese (English)
Original: Portuguese (English)


Arpoador (Harpooner)

Note: It was once a place for harpooning whales

Bangu (Black Shield, Big darkened wall)
unknown/part of Campo Grande

Note: The Tupi word bangu’u likely references the shadow of the Pedra Branca Massif. Another possible origin is the African term banguê, a place on the sugarcane mill where slaves stored bagasse, for feeding the cows. The latter term then began to be used to describe a primative transportation device, like a stretcher, for sugarcane and construction material

Copacabana (Luminous place / Blue Beach, View of the Lake)
Sacopenapã (Path of tiger herons)

Note: Current name is perhaps Quechuan, or of Bolivian indigenous origin. Original name is the same as the Lagoon, related to old parish delimitations) [1]

Flamengo (Flemish)
Uruçumirim (Small Bee)

Note: Current name either due to Dutch invasion, Dutch prisoners, or sightings of flamingos. Also called Aguada dos Marinheiros (Sailor’s fresh water supply), and Praia do Sapateiro (Cobbler Beach) in the interim

Humaitá (Black Stone)
Praia da Piaçava (Piassava Beach)

Ilha do Governador (Governor’s Island)
Ilha de Paranapuã / Ilha dos Maracajás (Seaside Hill Island / Margay Island)

Note: It was a sesmaria and sugar mill owned by Rio’s first governor, Salvador Correia de Sá

Ipanema (Bad Water)

Note: The name also references the second Baron of Ipanema, from inland São Paulo, who invested his capital from a metal processing plant into what would become Rio’s Ipanema

Madureira (from tentant and cattle drover Lourenço Madureira)

Penha (either from Our Lady of Peñafrancia or from the word for cliff) [2]

Recreio dos Bandeirantes (Fortune-hunters Playground)

Note: The company which originally sold lots of land there had the same name

Tijuca (Rotten Water)

Note: Tijuca got its name because it was on the way to Tijuca Lagoon, in Barra da Tijuca


Cidade de Deus (City of God)

Note: Dom Hélder Câmara, a Roman Catholic Archbishop, suggested the name to Carlos Lacerda, then-governor of the state of then-Guanabara. The housing complex was actually supposed to be inhabited by government employees, but due to 1966 floods, residents of favelas in the Zona Sul were moved there instead [3]

Complexo do Alemão (German’s Complex)
Unknown/part of the parish of Inhaúma (Black Bird, ie Horned screamer)

Note: The “German” in this case, was actually a Polish immigrant, WWI refugee and land owner. Before it was a Complex, it was simply known as Morro do Alemão (German’s Hill)

Complexo do Maré (Tide Complex)
Comunidade Morro do Timbau (Timbau Hill Community)

Note: The name Maré is due to the swampy area there and the tide that would eventually come in, which gave way to the construction of stilt houses

Morro da Mangueira (Mangueira Hill)

Note: The Mangueira Hat Factory was located on a street at one of the entrances to the favela. The factory “lent” its name to another favela, in Leme, called Chapéu-Mangueira

Morro da Providência (Providence Hill) [4]
Favela (Weed)

Note: It took on the current name in the 1940s with the installation of the Divina Providência chapel there

Morro do Salgueiro (Salgueiro Hill)

Note: Portuguese immigrant Domingos Alves Salgueiro had 30 shacks in the favela and became a point of reference for those going there

Rocinha (small farm) [5]

Santa Marta / Dona Marta (Saint Martha / Lady Martha)

Note: Priest Clemente Martins de Matos bought lands in current-day Botafogo and denominated the hill with his mother’s name

Vidigal (named after Major Vidigal) [6]


Corcovado (Hunchbacked)
Pináculo / Pico da Tentação (Pinnacle / Temptation Peak)

Note: The original name references the Mount of Temptation, showing that religious connotations existed there prior to the Christ statue

Cristo o Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)
Mirante do Chapéu do Sol (Sun Hat Viewpoint) [7]

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon) [8]
Piraguá or Praguá / Sacopenapã / Capôpenypau (Fish Cove / Path of tiger herons / Lagoon of shallow roots)

Note: Also called Lagoa de Amorim Soares / do Fagundes (due to other owners), in the interim

Maracanã (parrot)

Pedra da Gávea (Topsail Rock)
Metaracanga (Decorated/Crowned head)

Indio da Costa’s ideas for Rio


At age 78, architect Luiz Eduardo Indio da Costa maintains a habit he fell in love with many decades ago: that of walking. But even when he’s taking care of his health, he doesn’t put his work aside. As he drives through Rio’s streets, he wonders how to make them better spaces, and many of his ideas have turned into projects. He believes that urbanism is a way to transform lives in a city.

Despite the heavy routine of his architecture firm – responsible for implementing the VLT and integrating the system with the streets downtown – Indio da Costa always reserves time for his walks. Between one outing and another, ideas come about like that which gave rise to the remodeling of the beachside kiosks. From the architect’s drawing board come a variety of different traits, but all follow the same concept: smoothness.

When he speaks of smoothness, Indio da Costa refers mainly to the preoccupation with life in the metropolis. Recently, he envisioned a panoramic city, with the creation of a circuit of cable cars linking several hills of the South Zone. The idea was presented last year, during the Utopias Cariocas show, which was part of Design Week Rio. For Barra and its chaotic transit, he designed a system to connect it with Itanhangá via a bridge over Lagoa da Tijuca. In Ipanema, a solution would restore the sovereignty of times gone by to the pedestrian: he proposes the widening of the beach sidewalk.

“I’m in love with Rio. It’s a beautiful, spectacular city that welcomed me with open arms. I am a Gaucho, but I became a citizen of Rio de Janeiro, a title I received from the Legislative Assembly in 2013. I say, jokingly, that I have dual citizenship. I keep a close eye on the city, and for me there are two scales of action. One is macro-urbanism, with which you see the city as a whole, something that the urban planner does in general, mapping areas for transformation, studying transport, discerning potential tourism spots … And there is a more delicate, smaller view, that of micro-interference. I think Rio de Janeiro has needed this,” says Indio da Costa, who authored the Rio Cidade Leblon project.

Working in partnership with an international office in the design of the Museum of Image and Sound (MIS), Indio da Costa believes that after a period of major urban planning interventions in Rio, it is time to look back at the details. It is, he says, time to think about projects that can provide comfort in the movements of Cariocas.

Architect with new ideas for the city of Rio


Barra – Itanhangá
New Connection

The project provides a bridge between Avenida das Américas, in Barra da Tijuca, and Itanhangá. It would be the resumption of Via Parque, foreseen in Lúcio Costa’s project, which was only done partially, behind Downtown shopping center. The construction would help to clear up traffic in the neighborhood.


Projeto Rio Panorâmico
About the hills

Taking advantage of the chain of mountains in the South Zone, a circuit of aerial trams would be installed, linking Sugar Loaf to hills in Copacabana and Botafogo. At the tops of Babilônia, São João, Saudade, Cabritos and Cantagalo, there would be lookout points and areas for eating.


Praia de Ipanema

The extension of a stretch of the Ipanema Beach sidewalk – which is four meters wide, half the size of the one at Copacabana Beach – would provide more comfort to those who walk along the waterfront. For the project, a strip of sand would be incorporated into the sidewalk.


Aterro do Flamengo
More space for leisure

The architect suggests the transfer of some soccer clubs (Vasco da Gama, Boqueirão do Passeio and Santa Luzia) that today occupy an area in the Aterro do Flamengo, between the Museum of Modern Art and the Santos Dumont Airport. The idea is to enlarge the park area.


Jardim Botânico
More fluidity

Two bridges for vehicles on Rio Cabeça would link Rua Jardim Botânico and the Lagoon. For the architect, the project would relieve traffic in the region, reducing the large number of vehicles on Rua Saturnino de Brito.

“Due to the Olympics, we had a series of important projects, such as Line 4 of the subway and Parque Madureira. Now, I think the day-to-day of the city, the relationship of the citizen with its streets, with its neighborhood, is very impaired. We do not have a walkable sidewalk. A pleasant city is one in which the pedestrian has priority. The car, which was once a solution, became a problem.”

The architect misses the time when his grandmother, a resident of Rua Conde de Irajá in Botafogo, kept a wooden stool in the house that, filled with Portuguese stones, gave way to a standardized baroque design created by city hall. He thinks that, as in the past, the sidewalks must be the focus of city hall.

Many people do not take good care of their sidewalks, but the fact is they do not have a defined standard. This is present in any organized city. You can not let each property owner decide how the stretch in front of their property will be. When we made Rio Leblon City, we established a continuity of the sidewalks, which have a design – he remembers. The city underwent major construction and improved, but lost the attention to details. It doesn’t concern itself with the sidewalk, the median curb, the trees.

Among the many ideas that Indio da Costa proposes is a redesign of the Lagoon’s borders.

“I walk around the Lagoon and I consider it absurd to have a shared path between pedestrians and cyclists, it is overcrowded, there is a high risk of accidents, there are places in which it would be possible to separate them, like in the stretches near the parks.”

Indio da Costa also suggests the implementation of an aquatic transport system in the Lagoon. It would be a circulation system along the banks (without interference from rowers) that would become an alternative link between the districts of Humaitá, Jardim Botânico, Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana (in the Corte de Cantagalo area).

“City hall is studying an aquatic transport system in Barra. Why not have on in the Lagoon? It’s a sort of central pillar of the South Zone, and could receive boats with a proper, delicate design … It would be a smooth option,” idealizes the architect.