Babylon 1500 Gallery

Site plan
Front view
Office space
Scale
General view
Plans
Elevation and sections
Terrace
Gallery space
Gallery space
Office view towards Copacabana beach
Surrounding stair

Primary Authors

  • Pedro Évora/ Rua Arquitetos
  • Pedro Rivera/ Rua Arquitetos

Contributing Author

  • Rua Arquitetos (contributors)

Author

  • Alex Bueno de Moraes

Photographers

  • Demian Jacob

Objectives

The small block of three floors, that houses a program of 123m² - including gallery space, office and services - took two years to build. The terrace with view towards Copacabana beach is accessed by an external circulation - preexisting in part. It curls up like a snake around the block, from bottom to top. It acts as an articulation element. The first stop is the ground, where they deposit, kitchen and toilet, occupying an area of 30 m² covered in small pieces of reused marble and ventilated by holes on the walls. This movement, with the balance of 1,3 m is supported by beams that have their profiles underscores the facade. Vertical louvers in hardwood are fixed to the slab, eliminating the need for guardrails. The atmospheric path gains wealth by changing permeability of natural and targeted elements. It is also envisaged that this staircase is mirrored in the slab above, creating dual circulation linking the gallery coverage. Rather than introducing an alien architecture, the design appeal is achieved by upgrading and dialoguing with an existing system, by referring to the local scale, typology and people. We expect to illustrate to local builders and residents on how can they, with simple means, improve their homes and the city.

Context

A project exploring its pioneering - the first art gallery erected in a slum - to make up the function works and at the same time, talk with an immediate urban condition of the city. The building is located 200m above the hill where people face enormous difficulties to bring construction material by climbing through its narrow stairs, therefore we decided to recycle the existing structure and materials - a ruin of a broken geometry concrete slab with half-built walls and no roof over a basement filled with dirt - and to make use local techniques and workers. The implementation was guided by inherited features of the context. After cleaning and finding the robustness of the foundation stone, the party was to maintain the structure of reinforced concrete and tearing down the walls. The challenge was to create an interesting composition by interpreting the ways suggested by the given elements. The new pillars and beams continued the existing system of concrete in situ. The bricks were reused for the walls and slabs panel type were modulated to reticular geometry with a triangular shape.

Performance

The current phenomenon of integration that occurs in communities of South Zone of Rio de Janeiro -since 2008 security has been increased due to the installation of Pacifying Police Units - generated an increasingly rise in hostels and meeting places. There is a general change in mentality in which the slum is no longer seen as a problem and begins to be considered livable space and more affordable. The most striking, however, has been the discovery of public spaces with a difficult vitality to be found elsewhere in the city. Gallery 1500 opens for a sustainable way to enable an enterprise in the slum without impairing its function or decontextualise. By engaging in local operations, the project won both tectonic and conceptually. On the one hand, irregular paging structural and geometric spaces surprises generate high perceptual value. The building is attracting foreign visitors from all over the world and from the community itself whom are having the chance to see an art exhibition for the first time. Some neighbors are copying its iconic characteristics as the wooden brise soleil, the big windows or its finishings.

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Site plan