Cultural effects on the Built Environment in Rio de Janeiro



Nov '13 - Nov '13

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    Day 1 / Rio de Janeiro

    Ian Wilson
    Nov 22, '13 7:58 PM EST

    Today was my first time ever in a different country other than the United States. I have never been so excited in my life. The opportunity to travel to these amazing places in the world is truly awesome! I feel very grateful for this opportunity to be able to be here. 

    On our descent into Rio de Janeiro I began taking photos of the landscape below. The rich deep red soil sticks out so clearly from 30k feet in the air. You can see patches of farming and the rain forests intertwined with each other. You start to see small structures that are scattered from here to there. As we get closer to the city you start to see more and more buildings and structures. When arriving into the International Airport (Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport) you come in from the west inland as opposed to the city airport (Santos Dumont Airport) where you enter from the east over the ocean giving you the iconic image of Rio de Janeiro. 

    From the west you can see the Favelas that start to grow more and more up the sides of the hills and mountains, it reminds me of this ever adjusting plant that adapts and continues to flourish even in the harshest conditions. There is a beauty in the way people build and adapt to their surrounding conditions. Using whatever may be readily available to them. Most of the building materials come from the surrounding construction sites where if materials left out will be snatched up at night or over a lunch break when workers will take their naps. 

    The architecture of the airport itself is brutalist at its best. It was originally a Brazilian Air force Base and then was extended and added two passenger terminals for international travel. It features two semi-circular plans that house passenger entry and exit. 

    As your driving through the city to Ipanema, we had to go through a favela instead of the regular route due to construction of a road. The favela was mind blowing, the poverty and the level of living was shocking. To think that these people are living and making the best out of what they have and can still put a smile on their face and in their hearts is remarkable. The will use whatever they can find to make it work, a door that will act as a piece of a roof, using brick in any way possible to infill holes in their walls. 

    The following images are from the roof top of my girlfriends father's apartment. It is an amazing view of Dos Hermanos. It shows how tall they build, all the apartment buildings and hotels trying to steal the view of the ocean from one another. Having the buildings so tall does allow the ground level and street life to be nicely cool in temperature. The tall buildings give protection from the direct sun and the tall buildings brings the cool air down toward the trees and then is cooled when hitting the people. The majority of people here will walk, so the cool air helps makes it more comfortable. 

    Good night. 


    • observant

      Rio de Janeiro is truly a reason to be excited.  I am envious.  I have only been once.  The stop on a trip to various South American countries lasted 4 days.  Cariocas all tend to give a "thumbs up" a lot, and that's what the customs officer did when he asked me how long I was staying and answered "do seis de Abril ate' o nove de Abril."  I guess I passed his test.

      No other major world city has a more spectacular setting.  Also, there is so much difference in the lives of someone in a condo tower on Avenida Vieira Souto in Ipanema and the resident of a favela like Rocinha or Vidigal.  In 4 days, I did not want to delve into a deep analysis of the city's social fabric.  However, it's fairly evident that Cariocas are far more uninhibited than the citizens of Portugal.  In fact, if someone chats you up on public transportation in Portugal, you might want to inquire if they are Brazilian.  Most of the time they have been!  Cariocas who aren't in scam mode, and there are some, are also very willing to help tourists with a good attitude and I found that they helped me more than once.

      The architecture is all over the map, and features the modern alongside the whitewashed version of Baroque, as is seen in many Portuguese churches, and is seen at the major downtown church of Candelaria, if I recall correctly.  There are some interesting things, architecturally, in the new cathedral, in the Teatro Municipal at Metro stop Cinelandia, and the towered structures holding up the bondi tracks taking you to Santa Teresa, a funky part of town.  Of course, you'll be seeing Cristo Redentor, Pao de Acucar, the Lagoa de Rodrigo Freitas, the Niemeyer museum at Niteroi, and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, among other things.  The tacky things are good, too, and part of Rio, such as the bar "Garota da Ipanema," named after the immortal song.

      If you have a more time, and need add other beaches, consider those such as the ones at Barra da Tijuca and beyond, or on Buzios, a few hours north of the city.

      The food is also good, so let us know what you sample.

      Keep reporting to us!  Boa viagem!

      Nov 22, 13 10:06 pm


      Enjoy you time a great City to spend your first time out of the US.  I'm married to a Cariocas and have made several trips and always ready to go back.  You will be in good hands and will most likely get to have a meal at  Lagoa Restaurant.  I'm sure your girlfriends family will treat you like a king.  People in general are all very friendly.  If they don't speak English they will speak loader in Portuguese  just  because it might make more sense.  You will find all the evening meals very late....and the night life  running into the morning hours.  However the people you will meet work very hard.  I also suggest you have Pizza in Brazil, it is the very best.  Then they have these little cheese balls you eat with your shot of strong coffee which are to die for. 

      Nov 23, 13 4:45 pm

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About this Blog

I would like to start a blog about my upcoming travels to Rio de Janiero, Brazil. I am going to visually document and narrate my adventures around the city and local areas. I really want to share my findings with the architectural community and help document what people dont see in the websites online. I will be looking at the city from a macro to micro view all the time, taking into account the minute details to the overall city.

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