Right outside of Rio de Janeiro lies Rocinha, the largest slum in South America. This informal settlement, first occupied by a community of farmers, has quickly developed into one of the most dense living situations on the planet. About half the size of Central Park in New York City, this favela is home to an estimated 150,000 people. With the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games both taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Rocinha will become a hot topic in the next few years. Due to its small size, this project by Kyle Beneventi proposes an urban strategy to make Rocinha a very walkable city, dealing principally with voids to break up the blanket of uniform building mass. More images and project description after the break.
Living conditions in Rocinha are poor, lacking many of the basic amenities that constitute a healthy standard of living. Vernacular buildings, potentially hazardous on these steep slopes, are built so close together that ventilation and natural light are minimal on street level, resulting in Tuberculosis rates six times that of Rio. These houses are often built in less than 24 hours, then later structurally upgraded to support vertical growth; selling roof-rights to future builders for extra money.
Rocinha was officially adopted in by Rio as an official city in 2004. This process is happening all over the world, creating a new typology of urban development. The central plazas in the design are linked along main arteries of circulation, with periodic punctures for smaller plazas every 5 walking minutes, or 1/4 mile.
Normally, cities accomplish this rhythm using a grid, leaving certain blocks designated green space. Because of its organic and exponential growth, Rocinha does not allow for this method. Therefore, the goal is to utilize as much preexisting open space as possible, linking each plaza with current main roads.
While the construction of the main plazas help to spread out commercial activity and sustain future growth, it does require displacing a number of residents. Instead of building a few larger rehousing complexes, this proposal plans to pair a series of small towers with the periodic mini-plazas along primary corridors, reducing the building foot print and keeping residents rooted in the micro-communities that their social and economic lives depend on. These towers, therefore, play a key role in providing the population opportunities to serve program within each specific void as an extension of the street, and can be repeated across the entire favela.