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Grotoa Community Center, Urban Think Tank, Sao Paulo, Brazil, community center, humanitarian design, holcim awards, 2012 global holcim award silver

Although Grotão is located in the center of the city, only one road connects it to the larger circulation systems of Sao Paulo, which limits the residents access to essential amenities. The goal of Urban-Think Tank’s community center will be to help provide services, education, recreation and to also help shore up the surrounding hillside. After some particularly devastating slides, a number of homes and buildings had to be removed creating a void in the urban fabric. After work to shore up the hillside and minimize risk of further slides, the community center will be built in this void. A series of terraced gardens and new affordable housing will be placed up above the center.

The actual community center will contain a sports pitch on the bottom floor, along with a community center and a music hall which provides classrooms, performance halls and a recording studio. The music program helps cultivate skills and talent as a means of education, culture and even careers. A bus stop connects the center with public transit and to the rest of the city. Renewable energy is generated via the sun and wind, while the building works to collect rainwater and limit stormwater runoff. An innovative shading facade encourages natural ventilation and recycled construction waste will be incorporated into the new building and landscaping.

The head of the jury, Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos notes “[It] is a very important intervention in one of the most conflicted areas of Sao Paulo, one of the very difficult favelas. And it’s a project that where the program has the complexity that brings in satisfactions and opportunities in faith to many of the people in the favelas, plus bringing great connectivity in a very reasonable way of constructing and building the project.” Urban-Think Tank will receive USD 100,000 for their project.

Photos ©Holcim Foundation