- Lead Architects:Christian Teshirogi, German Nieva, Noelia Monteiro
- City:Santa Inês
Text description provided by the architects. The project is located in Serra, a small rural community within the ‘Mato’ biosphere in the State of Maranhão. It consists of the extension and refurbishment of an existing building to up-scale the production of babassu flour produced by an 18-women group of ‘quebradeiras de coco de babassu’. The ‘quebradeiras’ are women that collect and hand-break babassu coconuts to obtain oil and flour. Babassu from the quebradeiras ends up in bread, cakes, cleaning materials, cosmetics, drinks, handicrafts, margarine, porridge, and soap. The project aims to improve the production facilities by extending the existing building, upgrading materials, and re-arranging the internal layout to meet hygienic certification. The produce can be commercialized more extensively increasing the economic return for the group of women.
The design was developed in close consultation with the group of quebradeiras. Workshops in situ helped to identify the aspirations and expectations of each woman towards the new build, from the preferred materials to the program and space requirements. Their continuous input informed the project throughout all the stages of design and construction. The proposals were communicated using physical models and clear layouts. The project adds new covered access and break-out area to the front of the existing building. This extended threshold zone acts as the meeting point between the community and the group quebradeiras featuring a planter and a bench made with concrete pavers. The existing front and back doors were removed and replaced by perforated brick walls to allow for natural cross ventilation. The timber structure for the new service area to the side of the existing building is covered by a frosted polycarbonate sheet that allows for 70% of daylight through while blocking nocive UV light.
The polished concrete floor in this area incorporates some tiles kept from the demolition works. The bespoke water tanks to clean the cocos were made with concrete pavers manufactured off-site and finished with a layer of mortar to all internal faces. All fixed furniture and equipment were designed in collaboration with the group of women, considering preferred heights and overall sizes to best suit their bodies and working positions. The refurbishment of the production area includes a new ceiling lined and attached to the existing timber roof structure. A new skylight was created too, by replacing some of the ceramic tiles of the existing roof with translucent polycarbonate sheets.