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)


Esqueleto Tourist Hotel


In 1953, work began on the construction of Gavea Tourist Hotel. The idea, designed by architect Décio da Silva Pacheco, was to make a luxury establishment targeting high-earning clientele. The location encompasses about 30,000 square meters, which was to include a restaurant, a private forest and even an aerial tram. Although unfinished, the space was opened for some events: in 1965, there was a large New Year’s Eve celebration with 1,000 guests, and a night club called Sky Terrace was open for a while on the property grounds. From the 60s onward, the setting has been the backdrop for films, model shoots as well as highly frequented by curious travelers over the last decade, including for sports.



However, in March 1972, the construction of the Hotel was interrupted by developer California Investments, which would take over the project. Five years later, the company filed for bankruptcy and work stopped altogether (and gone with it, the money from 11,000 people who bought shares in the company in exchange for free stays at the hotel). In 2011 it was sold to a group of investors for R$29 million and the building was closed in preparation for technical inspections and future construction, but there were problems with permits and the project didn’t go ahead.

As mentioned, that doesn’t stop people from going there, though. In part, thanks to Globo’s article (PT) in 2016 about the location becoming a tourist spot, there have been many reports (even up to August 2017) of guards posted there and the location being effectively closed. – Sources 1 (PT), 2 (PT) and 3 (PT)


Rio casinos may make a comeback


Seventy years after being banned in Brazil, casinos are making their bets and returning to the negotiating table in Latin America’s largest country. Yesterday [May 09], one of the world’s gaming industry icons, American Sheldon Adelson, president of Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the United States, met with Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella. However, the multibillion-dollar entrepreneur, who will be in Brasilia with his team, is not the only one. Also in the city recently was James Murem, who heads the MGM Resorts group, famous for his ventures in Las Vegas.

The list of companies interested in taking advantage of casino activity in the country has been growing every month. Even one of Las Vegas’ best-known figures, former mayor Jan Laverty Jones, was in Brasilia, as she is now one of the top executives at the company that owns Caesars Palace. In recent months, the group owner of the Red Rock network, with spaces in California and Michigan, was also in Brazil.

But it’s not just Americans. Europeans from Portugal’s Estoril Sol and even those from Austrian state-run casinos in Vienna were in Brasilia presenting the casino and entertainment industry as a tool to boost the tourism industry in Brazil.

Investment in Resorts

The legalization of casinos, however, is a subject surrounded by controversy in Brazil. Many groups criticize the proposed legalization, arguing that gambling could lead to money laundering, the creation of criminal organizations and addiction. On the other hand, the government itself has already convinced itself that the legalization of casinos will help in the development of the economy. According to MP Elman Nascimento, the Chamber’s special committee president analyzing the subject, US$24 billion in investments is expected.

“Brazil is one of the only democratic countries where casinos aren’t allowed. These groups are interested in investing in the country, creating an integrated casino resort. There is a high willingness to invest. But it’s necessary to ensure that these investments take place in the country. In addition to the groups from the US and Europe, there are also companies from Argentina and Uruguay with an eye on the country”, Nascimento said.

In the meetings, businessman Sheldon Adelson said he intends to start an $8 billion project in Brazil. The American billionaire’s idea is to create a complex along the lines of the one in Macau, which now generates more than ten thousand direct jobs and brings together convention and shopping centers. According to a source, the tycoon has said in his meetings that to start the venture, the city needs to have a 4 to 5 star hotel infrastructure to absorb customers.

Yesterday, Mayor Marcelo Crivella met the businessman for a meeting at the City Palace in Botafogo. Before the meeting, Crivella said that the reason for the meeting was “to bring investments” to Rio, without mentioning the word casino.

“He’s one of the big investors in real estate. Let’s talk about tourism. He’s surely has one of the biggest American fortunes and a lot of interest in Rio. So he can help us with Porto Maravilha. I’m going to show him the infrastructure that was created, and who knows, maybe we can install hotels, food courts, cinemas. He is one of the great entrepreneurs in Las Vegas,” said Crivella.

Hotel Nacional in Focus

Adelson’s advisor declined to comment. According to another source, groups from abroad are already talking to hotels in Rio de Janeiro and looking for land. One of the talks at an early stage calls for the possibility of a casino in the former Hotel Nacional, in São Conrado (pictured at the top), owned by HN Construtora, and recently reopened under the management of the Spanish group Meliá.

“A pre-arrangement was made for the construction of a casino in the hotel, for a $50 million project”, said one of the sources who declined to be identified.

Hotel Nacional did not return a request for comments.

There are now two proposals to legalize casinos in Brazil: one in the House and another in the Senate. In the House, the substitutive report from the Commission on the Regulatory Framework for Games was already voted on and is on the table of the president of the House, Rodrigo Maia. In the Senate, the bill is wih the Constitution and Justice Commission. According to sources, the two projects will converge as one, as a way to speed up voting in Congress. The idea is that the text goes to plenary after the vote on Social Security reform.

It’s already certain that, by uniting the two proposals, the project will federalize the criminalization of all types of games, such as bingo and the animal game lottery. According to the House’s proposal, states with up to 15 million inhabitants may have a casino; places with between 15 and 25 million, two; and states with above 25 million, three. The Senate proposal mentions up to three establishments per state.

“It requires a uniform legislation, fraudulent exploitation of the game, without authorization, becomes a federal crime.” This brings security for the investor. For the project, the casino machines will be linked to the Federal Revenue system, which will have online monitoring”, said Nascimento. – Source (PT)


Between 1934 and 1946, there were 71 legal casinos in Brazil. Eventual owner of Cassino da Urca, Joaquim Rolla, won the casino in a card game [1]

Brazil has been described as the sleeping giant in several publications and in relation to its huge potential to turn into one of the world’s biggest regulated markets. Gambling has already been a big thing in the country. According to the Brazilian Legal Gaming Institute (Instituto de Jogo Legal – IJL), the approximate amount of US$6.4 billion is generated annually from illegal gambling services. What is more, the Jogo do Bicho market could be worth around $3.8 billion. In terms of stakes placed, the local market could be valued at around $17.6 billion, the IJL has noted in a report on Brazil’s gambling market.

As many other gaming options, brick-and-mortar casinos are also prohibited in Brazil. It has been estimated that around 200,000 country residents travel to neighboring Uruguay to gamble at local casinos.

Bearing all the above figures in mind and the fact that gambling is strictly prohibited in Brazil and only conducted illegally, the IJL has suggested that the country annually loses $2 billion in what could be contributed to coffers in gambling taxes.

With population of 208 million people, Brazil could be the world’s largest regulated gambling jurisdiction. – Source



Cassino da Urca

Opening in 1933, Rio’s Urca Cassino (today a design institute) was the place to be, until a presidential decree banned gambling in Brazil in 1946. At the height of its success, from 1939 – 41, it was considered to be the world’s best and most happening night club. It was while performing there that Carmen Miranda was noticed by an American show biz magnate, starting her international career.

Others to pass through the Cassino included the likes of Bing Crosby, Josephine Baker, Orson Welles, and Walt Disney.

From Gavelandia to Rocinha


“Above you can see a September 1932 advert from the magazine Vida Doméstica about a project called Gavelandia, in São Conrado. The then-deserted neighborhood started to interest investors and the advert to occupy the area was directed towards them. The captions, using advertising-speak of the time, say the following:

Upper image of the ad: A dream that will soon be concrete reality. GAVELANDIA, symbolic standard of the creative and dynamic energy of Land Investors Trust. Gavelandia, seen from on high, is located on the closest superb elevation to the Atlantic coast, glamourously arising and covered in buildings in successive plateaus. The mountain and the sea combine their elements of beauty and health to fulfill the enchantment of the prettiest Atlantic neighborhood of the shapely capital of Brazil.”

Lower image of the ad: “The irrefutable photographic documentation and the magnificent view of Gavelandia as it is seen: the sea as background (…illegible…), the imposing lines of mountain rocks in the distance, the land at Gavelandia is ready for building.” – Source (PT)


historia8Interesting, of course, to note that the favela of Rocinha started in the 1930s, as well, with the allotment of land by the French company Cássio Guidon for the residences of sanitation inspectors (coincidentally, basic sanitation is still lacking in the lower area of Rocinha known as the “valão“). However, those that started to populate the area by the mid-30s were Western Europeans, escaping their war-torn continent, and poor people from Brazil’s Northeast. As the inhabitants set up small gardens on these allotments, they eventually became roças, or small farms (as can be seen in the photo above). The vegetables that initially came from them were sold at the Praça Santos Dumont open-air market (built in the late 20s, photo) in Gávea, and when buyers would ask where the vegetables came from, the answer invariably was, “da rocinha”.