Authors : Matthias Urschler and Rhina Portillo

University : University of Applied Arts Vienna

Status : Magister Architect Title, 2016

Advisor : Prof. Kazuyo Sejima (Sanaa)

Title : Beyond Mobility

Beyond Mobility finds an opportunity to intervene a Slum by rethinking the function of the cable car stations that have been introduced in many Latin American slums over the past decade. The rapid expansion of cities throughout the world has been accompanied by equally rapid growth of informal settlements. Slums develop, as the formal housing market is unable to cater for the number of new residents. We are looking closely to Latin America slums where the new residents are mostly workers that come to the city from rural areas. This informal settlements constitute a homogeneous urban fabric where there is no clear program distinctions within, is an endless high-density fabric. In the favela Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro, we can see one example that reflects the problematic of many others Barrios [1]. People are occupying all space for housing leaving no areas for recreation, sports, education, and communal or cultural program.  While many cities such as La Paz, Rio de Janeiro among others have introduce a system of cable car stations as a transportation medium for their slums, most of them proved to be a missed opportunity infrastructure project. This is due to the limited functions they provided; most of them are only a transportation station.

Beyond mobility is more of a new typology than a finished building; a vertical hub, that offers a Public Space Incubator. It could function as a “city center” within the favelas. Why vertical ? The project is design in two phases I & II. Once it reaches the second phase, it will grow vertically in the same way the slums is predicted to grow. This verticality  component comes due to the lack of voids within the slum; it’s important to respect the existing settlers with minimal footprint and therefore a minimum displacement. This results in a vertical spine that ties together the new activities proposed.

Nowadays in the site Rocinha, all civic activities, sport, health functions are rather in the periphery rather than in the interior of the urban fabric. The new  stations will introduce this function opportunity also in the interior. Aesthetically It would be a deinstitutionalized infrastructure from their current formal appearance, while a great amount of diverse spaces will be introduced allowing a great variety of uses. In any type of informal environment, we believe there is need for a informal program to be developed by its own users. However, by understanding their needs we can give hints and predict that the main focus would be into education, sports and communal uses, complemented by local retail and finally the public transport. These programs are meant to be organised in a progressive manner, where for instance the education is not offering just conventional classrooms but rather is offering different spaces with differentiated spatial conditions based on distinct types of learning (conventional and non-traditional styles). The strategy is to build an architecturally stimulating environment where the users would be invigorating by a flexible spaces. Based on the idea that more than a complex geometry what really trigger a human response, is a space that change. This is part of relatively recent studies that are linking flexible spaces with Neurogenesis[2]. The spaces are designed as flexible spaces, with geometrical capabilities of transformation and therefore can be utilised for different activities.


[1] Barrio (a favela that has develop an is not consider anymore a slum however is not a city either)

[2] Prof. Fred Gage , Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Matthias Urschler and Rhina Portillo_ The Global problematic of favelas to start and that critical situations can also be approach with contemporary architecture solutions.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
MU + RP_ Entrepreneurship , Art , Music, Cinema.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
MU + RP_ To work hard and smart , not waste time in small things until the overall is solved .

S//A : Describe your dream project
MU + RP_ Anything that mix infrastructure and architecture because it can have a bigger impact in people's behaviour.