By Mira Olson, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – As the yoga class comes to an end, Coaracy Nunes, Blyss Yoga studio owner and instructor, guides his students into savasana: “face up, eyes closed, body completely relaxed.” He tells them to turn their attention solely to their breath. The space, the music, and the group energy are all fostering meditation—which is abruptly interrupted by hammering in a nearby building.

Workers Construction of new apartment complex on the corner of Av. Vieira Souto and Av. Rainha Elizabeth in Zona Sul will last several months, photo by Mira Olson.

Nunes, always positive, then reminds his students: “Sometimes you really need to work to drown out the rest of the world.”

In Rio, drowning out the rest of the world can be a daunting task. The constant, rhythmic “clank” of chisels breaking concrete and the hum of drills cutting tile can be heard from nearly any corner throughout the city. It is a symbol of the country’s increased economic power and transition from “Developing” to “Industrialized” status.

It is a reminder of the modernized and renewed Rio to come. And the sounds are nearly hypnotic—if not for the aggressive nature with which they pierce eardrums and unnerve the city’s residents, many of whom are desperate but unable to escape.

“It never stops,” complains Katia Delgado, an acupuncturist who works from her home in Botafogo. “They’re already on the fourth project this year. My poor patients come here for peace and they have to deal with construction. One project ends and another starts.”

Construction affects many residents that work from home. Generally, workers arrive early and begin hammering promptly at 8:30 AM, when their shift begins. They labor continuously until 5:00 PM, with a short break for lunch. The duration of apartment renovation projects lasts anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

“As a freelancer, working from home has been quite a challenge. To begin with, this city is already very noisy,” notes Eduardo Rubiano Moncada, a photojournalist currently based in Rio. “There is construction everywhere and for some reason the sounds resonate through walls more than in other places I’ve lived.” He explains that the construction noise in his first apartment was so unbearable that after only two weeks he was forced to relocate at great expense.

The continuous renovation of the city is due to favorable market conditions. “Currently, people are able to access lines of credit and construction materials are cheap,” Delgado explains. “The government is lending a hand through loans, and residents are taking advantage of this. While it’s benefiting the public, we have to put up with the noise.”

At CAIXA, the bank administered by the federal government and that serves as the principal agent for public policies, is one of many entities offering such credit lines for residential construction and renovation projects.

Foreigners and locals looking for apartments can consult doormen and superintendents about current and upcoming construction in the building and within the vicinity.

The municipal government issues construction licenses for exterior renovation and expansion projects, but most internal household construction and renovation does not require a license. Further information about licensing can be found at:


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