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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.90 Santiago ago. 2015 


Humanidade 2012


Carla Juaçaba *(1)

* Architect, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


As a constructive system, scaffolds are one of the most ductile, resistant and easy to reuse structures existing; but being composed out of linear elements, they are unable to control external environmental conditions by themselves. This temporary pavilion takes advantage of both characteristics through a completely demountable structure which not only holds aerial interiors, but also allows to perceive the environmental conditions of the unique natural scenery in which it is located.

Keywords: Architecture, Brazil, scaffolding, exhibition, temporary structure.

We were given a site in a military base, an unstable terrain facing two of Rio’s most well-known beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana, surrounded by exuberant nature; a place where the wind blows harshly, generally at 120 km/h.

Our first contact with the site was during a promotional event (the site is usually rented for many different activities). On that occasion an 8,000 square meter plastic tent had been installed, with a strong air conditioner and a 250-meter porch facing Copacabana beach.

Once there, we immediately realized we shouldn’t use the materials which are frequently used for temporary exhibitions (plastic tents, blowups), though we were aware of the provisional character of the project. The impracticability of these materials was obvious straight from the start. We couldn’t do an installation without considering the breeze, the view and the site; that is, we didn’t want to work in just another space that could be exposed anywhere else, not blending in with its surroundings. Therefore, our question was: how could we turn away from the wind, sea, sun, or rain, ever so present and impressive at the Copacabana Fort?

Humanidade 2012 under construction
© Carla Juacaba

View from Copacabana beach
© Leonardo Finotti

Access Ramp
© Leonardo Finotti

We proposed a scaffold building, translucent, and exposed to all weather conditions, reminding man of his frailty when compared to nature.

Scaffolds are the only material we know of which can support such a weight, and through which rain and wind can freely pass. Furthermore, everything is 100% reusable and made out of previously used materials. In this project the scaffold leaves its usual place as a supplementary structure, to become a building all by itself.

The structure is composed of five structural walls measuring 170 meters in length and 20 meters high, leaving 5.40 meters of separation between them, creating a suspended walkway over Rio’s landscape, interrupted when necessary by spaces meant for reflection and thought. The exhibition rooms act as the bracing in the structure, stiffening and making it work as a whole.

By leaving the scaffold structure exposed, creating a synthesis with the surroundings, our idea was to reveal, not to shield. Scaffolds that were being used in plastic tents, would now be brought to light allowing the landscape to interact with the space. In this way, our idea was to come up with an exhibition where space and project was one and the same: the space is the exhibition itself. The program required an auditorium, meeting rooms, exhibitions spaces, and so on.

Humanidade 2012 under construction
© Carla Juacaba

Our first step was to transform everything into information devices. Furniture, desks, walls, ceilings, floors, chairs, everything had to convey information, as there would be no dissociation between service and exhibition spaces. Then, we thought of releasing the conventional exhibition spaces and rooms from being tied to the ground. The spaces would be accessed by ramps. On the ground floor the structure would have tunnels that lead all the way to the sea. The breeze would be naturally perceived, as the tunnels wouldn’t cut through it.

Gardens would be planted along the halls, becoming exhibition halls themselves. This is the start-off moment when the synthesis between space and information is established. This garden would represent the abundance of flora in different biomes and would spread itself within and out of the structure. Hence, the scaffolds would highlight their full potential as supporting structure and also as a transparency device.

Rooms would serve as spaces for reflection, of inner search, closed, shielded at times from the nature surrounding it –an invitation for personal and intimate reflection. As they were considerably separate from each other, the visitor was able to experience the inside/outside contrast and delight in this contradiction. In these spaces showcasing different dimensions and functions, we meant to highlight contemporary issues concerning man and how his activities since the Industrial Revolution have affected our world today (anthropocene). The space would showcase these and other main ideas that were discussed during Rio +20, and also expose ways in which Brazil can act on these changes..

All of these decisions were made because we believe we’re standing on the edge. There is no space left for the capital accumulation driven-mind. This should be a statement present throughout our whole project.

From top to bottom:
Ground floor level, Floor plan level +6,25 m, Floor plan level+13,55 m, Floor plan level +18,4 m
Published scale 1: 2.000
Legend: 1. Entrance hallway; 2. Library and conference room entrance hallway; 3. Auditorium entrance hallway; 4. Exit corridor; 5. Elevators; 6. Exit ramp; 7. Exhibition; 8. Conference room; 9. Kitchen; 10. Bathrooms; 11. Bar; 12. Library; 13. Auditorium; 14. Dressing-room; 15. Production room; 16. TV Studio; 17. Auditorium Hall; 18. Auditorium bridge – cafeteria; 19. Cafeteria; 20. Lookout platform; 21. Rooftop

Above: AA Section - hallway 1
Below: BB Section - hallway 3
Published scale 1: 2.000

Left: CC Section
Right: DD Section
Published scale 1: 500

Looking back on the effort it took to make this happen in such a short lapse of time –now that it has been built and un-built–, we realized that the ‘urgency factor’ we experienced during the planning and construction phases, seems to fit perfectly with the hard times we are currently living. There’s no time for anything and to ponder and reflect doesn’t suffice. However, we wanted to clearly state that the use of technology or any other of mankind’s achievements should not be in opposition to nature’s protection and conservation, therefore they shouldn’t be discarded, but rather used consciously when necessary.

We had to conceive a place capable of representing that possibility, a chance to embrace contrasts, both physical and human. And so we came up with the name, ‘Humanity 2012’ (Humanidade 2012), and with it we rose our flag: ‘a space for all’, to promote dialogue concerning multiple interests and desires; to unite different people and effectively collaborate to change the world we live in.

The way people made use of the space was quite surprising. Places designed for reflection, suddenly bloomed in joy and laughter; multiple places lead on to create a new perspective, a new sight. The numerous amount of people helped create and recreate the space. It wasn’t about the items we were showcasing, but rather about people and their interactions with the objects around them: an immediate interaction, with no restrains. Indeed, the space was visited both by heads of state and by the famished, so our mission was accomplished.

Today, all the exhibition material used is currently undergoing transformation. As it lasted only four months, the structures are now supporting other projects; books, films, and everything has a different use. This is how we understand sustainability. 

Humanidade 2012 under construction
© Carla Juacaba

Planta emplazamiento
Escala publicada 1: 10.000

Exhibition room detail. Published scale 1: 200
Legend: 1. Access ramp to exhibition room: 75 cm reticular structure + two plywood panels t= 16 mm; 2. Hall: OSB panels with finishings of reflective aluminum foil; 3. Roof: OSB panels with finishings of reflective aluminum foil, fixed to the upper beams of the room; 4. Main room: MDF exterior panels, OSB with finishings of reflective aluminum foil, fixed to vertical scaffolding; 5. Technical area; 6. Room’s ventilation filters: osb blinds with slats each 10 cm. Communication between technical and main room; 7. Main structure: modular scaffolding 2,40 × 1,80 m; 8. Modular framework of 75 cm, supported on the main structure.

Humanidade 2012

Architects: Carla Juacaba, Bia Lessa
Team: Antonio Pedro Coutinho, Pedro Varella, Sergio García-Gasco Lominchar, Elza Burgos de la Prida, Argus Caruso, Daniel Cuchicho, Rita D’Aguilar, Barbara Cutlak, Alvaro Pitas
Location: Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2012
Consultants: Estructura MVD. Osmar Dutra, Naldo Bueno
Construction: P&G Cenografia
Landscape design: Daniela Infante
Lighting design: Paulo Pederneiras
Lighting: Naldo Bueno
General production: SRCOM
Creative executive production: Lucas Arruda
Curatorship: FIRJAN
Materials: Scaffoldings
3d Model: Bruno Caio, André Wissenbach
Surface Area: 23.800 m²

1. Carla Juacaba | Architect, Universidade Santa Ursula, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2000). Her projects include various housing and exhibitions. In 2013 she won the international award for women “Arcvision Women and Architecture” in Italy. She currently runs her own architecture office in Brazil.

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