Metropolitan Rio
Research project

Awards and Exhibitions:

2013 – Exhibited at the 10th Sao Paulo International Biennale of Architecture (selected by an open call).

2013 – Honourable Mention at IAB Annual Award (Institute of Architects of Brazil), in the category of theoretical production.

2014 – Honourable Mention at IX Bienal Iberoamericana.

2014 – Honourable Mention at the ANPARQ AWARD (National Association of Research and Postgraduate Studies in Architecture and Urbanism)

Faced with the constant and growing urban expansion in Latin American cities, architects are challenged to design for the metropolitan condition. However, this metropolitan logic requires observing the city at its own pace of intensification and optimization. This gaze guided by the metropolitan requirements focuses on buildings whose intelligences in their spatial structures go beyond their badly-resolved appearances. How to recognize, represent and project this intelligence? How to observe the metropolitan performance of an architectural project? How to avoid the purely visual consumption of uninhabited and inert photogenic references to the hectic daily life of our cities?

Metropolitan Rio: Guide for an Architecture is the result of an extensive research that pursued to explore two main problems: first, what are the architectural qualities of the metropolitan Rio?; and then, how can these qualities be studied from existing buildings? Thus, the book is divided in two main parts: a theoretical debate on the evolution of Rio into a complex metropolis, focusing on how the production of architecture was affected by this evolution; and secondly, a collection of buildings that map these metropolitan qualities in the city and present them through precise representation. The first part ends with the “Metropolitan Performance Index”: a system of five graded indicators to situate each of the studied architectures in relation to their salient qualities. The second part does not end with the book: this guide presents itself as a fundamentally unfinished work that needs the concrete embodied experience of its potential reader to reach its goals. There are no suggested itineraries, but only few geographic groupings configured as chapters.

Three stages built our approach to metropolitan architecture: (1) Glaucoma: the first stage refers to the problem of the argument for the photographic framming of architecture. It refers to the lack of volume, to the side view, it finally refers to the “crisis of the whole” (Virilio 1993): an architecture amputated from the continuous whole of the city. (2) Presence: in the movement to cancel the glaucoma problem, we reiforced our side view and ended up crossing the daily matter of the city. We go through its extreme intensity of flows, rhythms, market logic, infrastructure dynamics, etc. In this crossing, we found buildings that take advantage of and stimulate the architecture-city interface - qualities that could not be perceived through architectural photographic essays. (3) Diagram: how to reproduce these qualities? How to represent the spatial performance of a building? In our research, we found in the axonometric diagram the necessary tool to study the multiple intelligences of the buildings that constituted our case studies.

Therefore, Metropolitan Rio not only claims such a condition for this city, but it also advocates an attitude of design that is aware of the urgent need to recognise, understand, value and produce architecture as something capable of taking advantage of this condition in order to increase its potential.

This research was largely supported by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), counting with the participation of many undergraduate students; and it was sponsored by the FAPERJ Research Grant.