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A relic of the Brazilian tyrannical military dictatorship, which only conceded power to a democratic government some forty years ago, the `Quartel do Parque Dom Pedro II` Military Barracks blights and divides the urban landscape of downtown São Paulo. The derelict building compound sits abandoned, on the southern edge of the Dom Pedro II park, in the impoverished Glicério neighborhood. Ever since the devastating construction, under the dictatorial regime, of the suffocating peripheral web of elevated highways and the unsustainable canalization of the once sinuous river bed, the park and barrack compound is a literal no-man`s land that separates the traditionally `working-class`-east from the `bourgeois`-west ends of São Paulo.

Yet, a spark of hope brightens the southernmost tip of this compound, in the form of the newly created Glicério `Comunidade Esportiva` (Sports Community) Soccer Association of `Tia Eva` (`Aunt` Eva). As a young teenager living in this neighborhood, she was the victim of sexual abuse, abducted within the compounds of these same military barracks by military perssonnel, and later in life, she worked as a prostitute on the streets of Glicério. Claiming to have responded to a calling, a few years ago she became overwhelmed with the desire to transform her life and the lives of the neighborhood`s poor youth, who were easy victims for drug abuse and trade. She mobilized a group of some four-hundred children who were desperate for recreation space, to demonstrate and request from the local government access to a small piece of land of the military compound to create a soccer field. She won the approval of the mayor and the former Secretary of Sports for São Paulo, as well as sponsorship from a local cellular phone company and bank, and in recent years has run an organized soccer association N.G.O., `Comunidade Esportiva` which trains football teams of children ranging from 7 to 16 years of age, who practice daily and compete in a regional championship series. There is a strong focus on social reform and education – students can only participate in the soccer program if they are attending school, and proper sportsmanship is strictly enforced. Tia Eva`s Comunidade Esportiva receives support and funding from the São Paulo government Sports, Leisure and Recreation Department and their `Clube-Escola` Program which promotes `Learning through Sports`.

But the abandoned military barrack building still looms to the north, and Tia Eva`s soccer field and modest office and changing rooms are actually in very crude conditions, and her soccer field is too small to host tournaments. Her wish is to expand her reach and positive community influence by not only having a larger league-standard sized soccer field, as well as seating and infrastructure to host tournament games, but to also serve a larger public by being able to provide cultural and vocational activities for the youth, especially for those 16-years old and over, who have `graduated` from her soccer academy, and thus her eyes are on the barracks themselves.

Influenced by this positive energy and public pressure, yet having had to negotiate for years with the Military who still own the barracks and want to preserve its identity as a military establishment and promote the more positive military history prior to the years of the regime, the state government is finally now preparing to reform the military barracks. To satisfy the desires of all the parties involved, they are proposing both a Museum of the Military Police as well as a branch of the already successful `Fabrica de Cultura` (Culture Factory) which provides six-month courses of theater, arts and music in impoverished communities with classrooms, a library and a 300-seat auditorium, here to be incorporated within the barracks building. The state government would like to reform Tia Eva`s compound as well, and our proposal includes seating for some 1000 people, dressing rooms and offices, as well as shops for ticket and refreshment vending, which helps her further fund her sports program.

For this program we have introduced a fluid and differentiated landscape of stepped seating with programs below. This curving infrastructure transforms in both height and width, to respond to different programs, and to the site constraints. Most importantly in this proposal is the creation of a public space that links the entire complex, where an extension of the football bleacher infrastructure becomes an amphitheatre for cultural events and informal seating for daily public use. The Military Museum and Culture Factory will use some 7686m2 within the exsiting barracks, while Tia Eva`s Sports Community will include 1000m2 of seating, 40m2 of shops and 60m2 of offices and dressing rooms. This new complex will be part of a larger cultural circuit within the local neighborhood, which includes a series of museums around and within the Park Dom Pedro II.

The construction of the new bleachers and seating will include the mobilization of a new labor force through a vocational training program of this new complex itself, made up of graduates of the soccer academy, ex-military personnel and interested local participants. Guided by construction managers and specialists, the bleachers will be constructed of poured-in-place concrete, a construction method that is economical, simple and widely used in Brazil. The main focus is to u promote an ecology of labor, so that this project serves as a training program to help empower local residents and ex-military personnel, not just for this building, but also for the provision of a future vocation.

One of the negative impacts of the canalization of the river under the military regime is the drastic flooding during frequent rain storms. One of the larger global ecological strategies of the project is to introduce as much planted permeable area as possible to the currently arid and concrete ground of the project. Thus of a total 21,291m2 site area, 13,860m2 (or 65% of the area) would be permeable and semi-permeable, and a system of rain-water collection would be instated to be re-used within the building as a grey-water system for toilets.

The local government actually has quite a strict environmental policy. Normally one is not allowed to remove a tree from a construction site, and if one does, each tree removed has to be replaced with three or four more trees (depending on the species) either on site or somewhere else in the city. Because of the construction boom, the city is literally running out of public squares or sidewalks to plant all these new trees. The inner courtyards and new plaza of this project would be designated as an area for replanting, helping to cool down the urban heat islands of the city.

Sometimes the biggest transformation comes from the smallest and most simple of actions. Tia Eva represents a grass-roots urbanism, a sole-actor that motivated a community, and negotiated between the private and public sector, to bring about a revolution in the lives of many children who lacked a goal and motivation in life that a soccer league would provide. Now with further negotiation and the resulting government intervention for this more ambitious project, the movement she started has mobilized a larger organization that can transform the lives of so many more.


Rua Frederico Alvarenga, 391-A Parque Dom Pedro
Sao Paulo, São Paulo 01020-030

Competition Details

  • Name: Open Architecture Challenge: [UN]Restricted Access
  • Host: Architecture for Humanity
  • Type: Public
  • Registration Deadline: May 01 2012
  • Submission Deadline: June 01 2012
  • Entry Fee: $50 USD Professionals , $25 USD Students , $0 USD Dues paying Architecture for Humanity Chapter members , $0 USD Developing Nations
  • Award: More than $5,000 in prizes
  • Status: Concluded

The competition entry ID for this project is 13693.

Project Details

NAME: Micro-Revolutions
PROJECT LEAD: D. Eva Marisa Alves
LOCATION: Rua Frederico Alvarenga, 391-A, Sao Paulo, São Paulo 01020-030, Brazil
START DATE: September 14, 2010
COST: $30000000 USD (Estimated)
SIZE: 7686 sq. m
PROJECT TYPE: Youth Center
BENEFICIARIES: -Impoverished neighborhood youth(8-16 years of age) interested in training in soccer league. -Impoverished neighborhood youth and young adults interested in cultural events. -Impoverished neighborhood young adults in need of vocational training. -General Public(all ages and income levels) interested in viewing sports and cultural events as a social construct. -General Public(all ages and income levels) in need of outdoor public space and natural park setting. -General Public(all ages and income levels) interested in military history. -Current and ex-military personnel seeking sense of history, identity and self-esteem.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: One of the negative impacts of the canalization of the river under the military regime is the drastic flooding during frequent rain storms. One of the larger global ecological strategies of the project is to introduce as much planted permeable area as possible to the currently arid and concrete ground of the project, to help absorb as much rainwater as possible and reduce the surge on the river and city water systems. Thus of a total 21,291m2 site area, 13,860m2 (or 65% of the area) would be permeable and semi-permeable A system of rain-water collection on site will further help this, the harvested water would be re-used within the building as a grey-water system for toilets.

About Our Partners

Sponsorship Needed We're continuing our recruitment of individuals and organizations who are ready to accept the mission of sponsoring the complex yet rewarding task of successfully transforming previously conflicted sites into civic spaces. If you are ready to enlist your financial resources in service of this greater good, please call us at 415.963.3511 or contact us.