The new elevator complex serves as the gateway to the local community and improves access conditions. Previously residents of the community relied on a series of precarious stairways and improvised accesses throughout the mount. Residents were constantly exposed to dangerous situations, poor lighting, crime and even the risk of possible landslides. This new facility is more than just a pedestrian friendly elevator though. It helps to reduce social inequality, lower the crime rate, improve quality of life, and provide unrestricted access to the different means of public transport. Tourists also enjoy the towers and make use of the elevators to access a vantage point from which to view and take pictures of the city.
The elevators transport people efficiently up 80 meters in height between the Cantagalo and Pavao communities on the hill and the Ipanema neighhood below. Named after Rubem Braga, a chronicle writer that lived in a building neighboring the Cantagalo favela, the elevator complex is made up of two towers, connected via a foot bridge to access different levels of the steeply sloped community. Both towers utilize an elevator capable of transporting 30 people at a time starting as early as 5 am up until midnight. During the week around 4,200 people use is and during the weekend around 3,300 people make use of the elevators. Staircases behind the class elevators are provided in case the power is out. Colored in bright blue and green louvers, the towers are protected against the rain and the harsh sun, but still encourage natural ventilation throughout.
Much like Rio’s cable car system, the elevators are helping improve transportation around the city in time for the upcoming world cup and the Olympics. Completed in 2010, the Rubem Braga Elevator Complex was recently shortlisted in the 2011 World Architecture Festival under the New and Old Category.
Images ©Celson Brando