By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Tuesday, November 20th, the judges of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) announced that the prestigious RIBA International Prize 2018 would be awarded to a school complex entitled ‘Children Village’ situated in the remote Brazilian village of Canuanã and designed by Brazilian architects Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum.

The RIBA International Prize is biennially awarded to a building that demonstrates architectural excellence, social impact, and sustainable design, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News,
The RIBA International Prize is biennially awarded to a building that demonstrates architectural excellence, social impact, and sustainable design, photo courtesy of Cristobal Palma/Estudio Palma.

Children Village is a school complex that can house 540 children attending the Canuanã School. Funded by the Bradesco Foundation, the complex was designed by architects Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes from Aleph Zero in collaboration with Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela from architecture and design studio Rosenbaum.

The architects followed a vision that emphasized both utility and sustainability. They listened to the children and teachers and strived to create a living and working environment that fitted with its inhabitants’ needs: a place where students could feel at home while developing the social bonds needed to thrive in a communal living space.

‘The Royal Institute of British Architects is the preeminent organization for design in the world. So the award to the Brazilian school is very significant and is a great honor both to the architect and the client commissioning the building.’ comments John Assael, Chairman of Assael Architecture and RIBA Honorary Treasurer.

When designing and building this complex, the architects had many considerations to make, not least the tropical climate, which can climb to above forty degrees in the summer. Amazingly, the building doesn’t require air-conditioning, as its large canopy roof provides shading, creating a comfortable, naturally-cooled environment.

Another aspect of the project that impressed the judges was the architects’ keenness to use local materials and techniques, with an emphasis on sustainability while also giving the building a significant connection to its surrounding community.

The 25,000 meter-squared complex is organized into two buildings that mirror each other - one for girls and one for boys - situated around three large, shady courtyards, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News,
The 25,000 meter-squared complex is organized into two buildings that mirror each other – one for girls and one for boys – situated around three large, shady courtyards, photo courtesy of Cristobal Palma/Estudio Palma.

The construction of the building used local materials such as blocks of earth, handmade on site, which provided much of the material for the walls and latticework. These blocks aren’t just inexpensive and locally available, they are also environmentally sustainable, versatile and aesthetically pleasing.

That these architects have won international recognition for constructing sustainable models of education and living comes as welcome relief at the end of a year when Brazil has been in the headlines for continuing environmental degradation and exploitation being carried out by multinational companies.

“It is so wonderful to see Brazilian architects nominated for the best building in the world, located in a country desperately in need of better educational conditions and bigger respect of the environment.” comments Charlie Jonas of Rio Exclusive.

“It really nice to see that a country such as Brazil can be at the forefront of environmental innovation and an example for all us!” He concludes.

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