Buoyant Housing In Brazil/

Danielle Khoury Gregorio


Project Details


Manaus / Brazil



Year (Design/Construction):

2019 / -

Area (Net/Gross):

1975 m2 / 6400 m2

Operational Carbon emissions (B6) kgCO2e/m2/y:


Embodied Carbon emissions (A1-A3) kgCO2e/m2:

  • Adaptation to local climate through bioclimatic strategies;
  • Use of local and natural materials;
  • Integration between the natural landscape/ hydrological cycle and the building;
  • Use of natural resources (solar energy and rain water).

Project description as provided by the author:

The project has the objective of providing housing for the impoverished riverside communities of Manaus (Brazil), living in precarious and risky situations. 

The city, located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, faces today a major housing crisis. With the lack of public policies and efficient urban planning, part of the population began to live on the banks of rivers in an inhuman and precarious way. In these occupations, the lack of sewage and garbage collection is frequent, aggravating the environmental degradation of those areas and facilitating the spread of diseases. Some housing projects were developed in response to these problems. However, in general, the particularities of the architecture and way of life traditionally developed by the riverside population were ignored, generating dissatisfaction and difficulty of adaptation by the relocated residents. 

This project is a criticism of the current production of social housing in Brazil, which creates generic models that ignore the social and cultural particularities of the Amazon region. Emphasizing the importance of rescuing the qualities of vernacular riverside architecture, the project incorporates features in its design familiar to residents of stilt and floating houses. Therefore, it allows the residents to identify with the house while valuing the Amazonian way of life and local knowledge. Architecture takes shape according to the culture and not the other way around.

Contextual and aesthetic impact: Nature and Architecture Integrated

Amazon basin water levels vary throughout the seasons and, therefore, the building structure needs to adapt according to those changes. The design of the housing complex was inspired by the traditional Amazon architecture in such a manner that it is in harmony with the people and its environment. The way this is done is by elevating the complex from the ground, as a reference to the popular stilt house. A floating floor that varies in accordance with flood and ebb seasons is also created, which is a common technique found in floating houses of the region, that allows for a continuous dialog with the local landscape. A requalification of the landscape is also done through the creation of a park that dialogues with the cultural and leisure spaces of the project.

Ethical Standards and Social Inclusion: Population as a Protagonist

The housing complex is not only restricted to the housing use, but also serves a purpose in providing social facilities, commerce, services and spaces for leisure and rest, features that are essential for human development. Emphasis was placed on programs associated with job creation, in an educational and cooperative manner, using the local know-how to generate income. In order to reinsert the traditional practice of building fishing boats and canoes, a space in the complex is reserved for a boat building school. A fruit shop and a fish market are located on the ground floor, incentivizing commerce of locally produced products. Also, a bakery school provides the community the opportunity of learning and working. 

An Environmental Education Center is also created. There, courses and workshops will be held, educating the community on the importance of preserving the environment. Associated with the Education Center there are a library, a media library and an exhibition space. Those provide learning spaces that enable educational actions aimed at raising public awareness about environmental issues. Furthermore, there will be a recycling cooperative, generating employment and income while decreasing the amount of residues discarded in the environment. 

The project also holds a canoeing club, which incentivizes physical activities and re-establishes the relationship between men and water. In addition, the housing complex has ample external spaces, encouraging contact with nature and promoting community life. Therefore, the project not only offers quality housing but also a space that fosters culture and leisure activities. As a result, a sense of community is created and empowered. The access to those activities is intended for not only the residents of the complex, but also the surrounding communities. In that way, the complex generates a micro local economy and cultural center for the region.

Resource and environmental performance

Aiming environmental sustainability, the project makes the best of available natural resources: the rain water is harvested and utilized in toilets. Sewage water is treated so it does not further pollute rivers and can eventually be reutilized. The solar energy is an alternative renewable energy used to provide electricity to the complex. Thermal comfort is done naturally by the dissipation of heat through cross ventilation. Also, the roof protects the interior spaces from direct rays of sunlight. The main structure of the building is made of reforested wood, which, during growth, absorbs carbon dioxide and generates less residues during construction phase. Furthermore, the building does not touch the ground, causing a smaller impact on the existing land and vegetation.

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