Author(s): Jose L.S. Gamez & Maria Fernanda Lemos
In Rio de Janeiro’s western zone, global challenges can be seen in many forms such as infrastructural investments associated with recent mega-events and tourism. In order to support these global events, world class sporting venues were built and others renovated, regional transportation improvements were undertaken, and specialized event housing was built. Despite this growth, countless opportunities to sustainably transform the area have been lost. This is particularly worrying within the context of climate change, which can magnify the challenges already caused by extremes of rain, drought, temperature, and wind, both in intensity and frequency—not to mention rising sea levels and their effects on coastal areas. In order to examine these forces, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Master of Urban Design (MUD) program and the Pontifical Catholic University at Rio de Janeiro’s (PUC-Rio) Urbanism Laboratory within the Graduate Program of Architecture of the Architecture and Urbanism Department established a 3-year collaboration, which is the focus of this paper. These workshops provided hands-on opportunities to examine neighborhoods in low elevation coastal zones with a planning horizon of the year 2100 (by which time sea-level rise will have impacted the city). By leveraging the studio environment common to design education, faculty from both universities created opportunities for applied research that can serve as a model for both the education of designers and the public.