Brazilians Gustavo Utrabo, 34, and Pedro Duschenes, 32, from firm Aleph Zero, a studio owned by designer Marcelo Rosenbaum, won the “Professional Excellence” Awards by the 2018 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 2018, one of the most renowned in the world. The project was designed for a rural school in Tocantins, in northern Brazil, and dubbed “Children’s Village”.
The place was developed for farm workers, teachers and 840 children, with classrooms, dorms, one cafeteria and a small hospital. The building provides accommodations for school-aged children in Canuanã farm, rural area of Formoso do Araguaia, 300 km from the capital of Tocantins, Palmas.
The 23,344-square-meter area was built using reforestation wood with prefabricated structure and bricks made locally, to overcome the trouble of transporting materials and to reduce greenhouse gas emission. The rooms are vented by hand-perforated masonry to keep the place fresh and cozy in this region, where frequently temperatures reach 40 ºC (104ºF).
The local also has wooden stairs and a footbridge with balconies overlooking patios and landscape gardens aligned with the dorms, which are divided in two wings, one for men and one for women. The building has no glasses nor air-conditioning systems and is surrounded by a tank-like structure, whose water is provided by rainfall, filled with local fish. When rains are heavy, the excess water is directed to the Javaés River, that goes by the complex.
The place the school is inserted in is comprised of three distinct biomes: cerrado, Amazon forest and pantanal. Sponsored by the Bradesco Foundation, Children’s Village is one of 40 schools managed by the Foundation, which seeks to provide education to children in rural communities all over Brazil.
This isn’t the project’s first award - in February 2018, the contest “Building of the Year 2018” acknowledged the Children’s Village in the “Best Educational Architecture Building” category.
To win the RIBA biannual award in 2018, the Brazilian project faced important competitors. Every two years, the organization chooses a project that represents architecture excellence with significant social impact in the region where it has been developed.
This year, the panel received 20 applications, and, in the end, only four remained. One of them is the Toho Gakuen School of Music, a school music in Tokyo’s suburb. The concrete structure is fitted with ceiling panels with acoustic absorption. The walls have an ingenious lining system in wood that retains the sound within the music practice rooms.
Milan’s Il Bosco Verticale, in Italy, was also among the finalists. The project consists of two 112-meter high towers, with almost 17 thousand shrubs and plants. The building hosts a vegetation equivalent to 20,000 square meters of forest and undergrowth – over an urban surface of 1,500 square meters. The towers replaced an old industrial building and are being used as art incubators.
The third project vying for this year’s award along with the Brazilian proposal is Central European University, in Budapest, Hungary, seated in a building, considered a World Heritage Site, overlooking Danube River. The space remounts Budapest patio heritage and gathers various buildings in an internal array of different areas and routes made with local stones and bricks. The development includes indigenous materials with artisan quality and the project was thought with precise details, to be built within the local contractors’ capabilities.
Published 21 December 2018