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Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum's Children Village wins RIBA International Prize 2018

Brazil - Nov 21, 2018 - 03:42   2010 views

Brazilian architects Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum's Children Village, a new school complex on the edge of the rainforest in northern Brazil, has been awarded the 2018 RIBA International Prize.

Crowned as the world's best new building, the project was praised for "creating the idea of architecture as a tool for social transformation", by the international jury panel chaired by renowned architect Elizabeth Diller of DS+R. 

Regarding to the aesthetic of the building, the jury also praised the building for "combining a contemporary aesthetic with traditional techniques" and "reinventing Brazilian vernacular." 

Image © Leonardo Finotti

"We are thrilled to have been awarded the RIBA International Prize 2018. It has been a joy to see the children making the building their own and adapting the space to fit their needs. Kids will make their own play and have imagination to burn," said Gustavo Utrabo and Pedro Duschenes, directors of Aleph Zero. 

"We wanted to be prescriptive without being overbearing, to be supportive without being patronising, and to encourage growth and development without cosseting it." 

Image © Leonardo Finotti

"We are deeply honoured to have been offered the RIBA International Prize. This award strengthens our understanding of architecture as a tool for social transformation, a tool that transcends construction and creates a deep connection between young people and their ancestors and knowledge," said Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela, directors of Rosenbaum. 

"The space facilitates the interaction between public and private, and socialising between the collective, nature and the individual, reconnecting children and young people to their origins and with their surrounding ecosystem."

Image © Leonardo Finotti

The RIBA International Prize 2018 is awarded every two years to a building that exemplifies design excellence and architectural ambition, and delivers meaningful social impact. The prize is one of the world’s most rigorously judged architecture awards, with every longlisted building visited by a group of international experts. 

Image © Leonardo Finotti

The RIBA International Prize 2018 jury was comprised of architects Elizabeth Diller (DS+R), Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), Joshua Bolchover (Rural Urban Framework), Gloria Cabral (Gabinete de Arquitectura) and Peter Clegg (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio).

Image © Leonardo Finotti

Children Village provides accommodation for 540 children aged 13 to 18 attending the Canuanã School. Pupils come from remote areas of the country, some travelling many hours by boat. Funded by the Bradesco Foundation, Children Village is one of forty schools run by the foundation providing education for children in rural communities across Brazil.

The architects, Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes from Aleph Zero, designed Children Village in collaboration with Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela from architecture and design studio, Rosenbaum.

Image © Leonardo Finotti

"In the design process, the architects worked closely with the children to identity their needs and desires for their school. They wanted to create an environment that could be a home away from home, where children could develop a strong sense of both individuality and belonging," stated RIBA.

Image © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

The architects replaced dormitories for 40 students with the new rooms for six children in a more intimate environment. As well as private spaces, public spaces were designed to give ample space for pupils to study, play and relax.

Covering a 25,000-square-metre area, Children Village is organised into two identical complexes: one for girls and one for boys. Residences are centered around three large, open and well-shaded courtyards at ground level, where the dormitory accommodation is located. 

Image © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

On the first floor, the building includes a number of flexible communal spaces, ranging from reading spaces and television rooms, to balconies and hammocks, where the children can relax and play.

"The tropical climate, with summertime temperature in the mid-40 degrees, was one of the major challenges cleverly addressed by the architects. The large canopy roof, the structure of which is made up of cross-laminated timber beams and columns, provides shading," added RIBA. 

"The overhanging canopy design has created an intermediary space, between inside and out, giving the effect of a large veranda overlooking the surrounding landscape and creating a comfortable environment with no need for air conditioning."

Image © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

The building was constructed with local resources and based on local techniques. The architects used handmade earth blocks on site to construct the walls and latticework, choice for their thermal, technical and aesthetic properties. 

As well as being cost effective and environmentally sustainable, this approach created a building with strong connections to its surroundings and with the community that it serves.

Image © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

"I am delighted that Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum have been recognised for their impressive work. Aleph Zero are philosophical and thoughtful architects and Rosenbaum is known for their work with local communities. Children Village provides an exceptional environment designed to improve the lives and wellbeing of the school’s children, and illustrates the immeasurable value of good educational design," said RIBA President Ben Derbyshire.

In 2016, the inaugural RIBA International Prize was awarded to Grafton Architects for their outstanding university building, UTEC in Lima, Peru.

Children Village was selected as the winner of the 2018 RIBA International Prize from the outstanding shortlisted entries, including Central European University (Phase 1), Budapest, by O’Donnell + Tuomey, Toho Gakuen School of Music, Tokyo, by Nikken Sekkei and Il Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), Milan, by Boeri Studio.

Top image © Leonardo Finotti

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