By Bruno De Nicola, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Rio de Janeiro Union of Architects (IAB-RJ) has launched an important call for the revitalization project of the once famous Hotel Paineiras. The complex will be transformed into a multifunction resort. Applications are being accepted until September 30, and must focus on the creation of an ecological, touristic and educational center.
The complex will include a hotel, Atlantic Forest observation deck and convention center. It will also serve as a parking and transfer area for vehicles en route to Christ the Redeemer.
Until 1984, Hotel Paineras was a luxury hotel situated in the heart of the Tijuca Forest – a national park and the world’s largest urban man-made forest. It was built in a prime location beneath Corcovado, the most powerful symbol of Rio de Janeiro.
The original resort was inaugurated in 1884 by Pedro II, Emperor of Portugal, and was intended as an elegant rest stop for wealthy noblemen who wished to visit the mountaintop. The Hotel was built during the construction of the first steam train railroad track.
Nowadays, the structure, which stands next to one of Corcovado’s train stations, is in disuse. The whole area has instead been haphazardly reappropriated as a huge parking lot for tourists visiting the Christ statue by car or taxi. According to current ecology regulations, all drivers must leave their vehicles in this area and continue to the top using the public shuttle system.
On April 20, 2009, Brazil’s Minister for the Environment, Carlos Mink, presided over the creation of a significant partnership between the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio or Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Preservation) and the Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil (IAB or Brazilian Union of Architects). These entities joined forces to organize a massive contest for the R$14 Million revitalization project of the Hotel Paineiras Complex.
Call for tenders was announced at the beginning of July 2009 and since then a large number of Brazilian architecture firms have been focusing their creative ideas on this very ambitious project.
Maria Isabel Palmeiro, a Carioca architect designing for the contest, explained that projects will be divided into four main branches: “A forty-room hotel, convention center, exposition area and 250-car parking lot.”
The parking lot will continue to work as a transfer station for Corcovado visitors: therefore planners must consider that one hundred parking spaces will be reserved for the shuttle system. Palmeiro also added,”the main idea is to focus on ecological impact.”
Doubts remain on the eco-friendliness of this mega tourist structure. In fact the planned area to be built in the middle of the National Park stretches over 14,000 square meters of land. The materials used for every element of the project will probably play a crucial role as well. But the main question is why a fully ecological resort is focusing on cars and vans for tourist transportation and not looking for an alternative, low eco-impact solution.