(With Victor Muñoz Sanz) Rio-Olympics proposes a strategy for using the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as an opportunity to accelerate a self-propelling process for change.

i. Concept

The three-part report begins with an examination of the success of Barcelona’s Olympic Games in 1992, showing how, in contrast, Rio is lacking scope and ambition in its Olympic Plan. Second, by applying the model of Barcelona critically to Rio, opportunities are found in the backstage of this city: the discovery of a city behind the city and of an event behind the event. Finally, based on the first two parts, a systemic strategy for Rio is developed for avoiding the Olympic hangover and triggering change. This strategy is embodied with a set of interventions on a specific site.

studio vara research rio-olympics diagram

ii. Context

studio vara research rio-olympics drawing diagram cluster

Brazil’s state oil company Petrobas plans a massive expansion of oil production in the Guanabara Bay, which along with the arrival of high-speed rail, will dramatically change Rio’s position in the coastal megaregion. The world is watching the Olympics, another event will be going on behind the curtain: the “Oilympics”.

studio vara research rio-olympics diagram

By linking these two events, the Olympics and the Oilympics, to a long-term strategic vision for Rio, RioOlympics strategically addresses the backstage issues of Rio and Links the blue city to the green city, balancing the priorities of the larger region: energy, ecology, education, mobility and urbanity.

iii. Design Program

The Parque Viveiro uses the phased decommissioning of an existing landfill, transforming it into a nursery for growing stock to reforest Guanabara mangroves and the Mata Atlantica. This field establishes a grid that rationalizes the ground plane and sets the stage for urbanization.

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The Linha Babel network appropriates Rio’s planned BRT ring, allowing social and civic programs to plug in at the transit stops, providing basic services for commuters. A pre-Olympics volunteer training program allows each stop to be a learning spot for one of the 55 languages spoken at the games.

studio vara research rio-olympics intermodal hub

The intermodal hub is a commuter logistics center, its form a figuration of the multiple flows: cars, buses, boats, and people, interweaving in space. It incorporates social programs (day care, supermarket, recreational facilities) and serves as a link to the Bus Rapid Transit system.

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Linha Babel would also exist an educational app, digitally implementing language learning centers and resources throughout the transportation infrastructure. During the Olympics, different languages would be assigned to each station.

studio vara research rio-olympic floating algae commuter logistics center

A massive floating algae production pond is inscribed on Guanabara Bay in the form of the Olympic Rings, providing biofuel to power public transportation for the duration of the games, and signaling Brazil’s transition to a post-carbon economy. This “Olympic Green” is a public amenity and a productive landscape that promotes environmental awareness and is the basis for the rediscovery of the Guanabara Bay by locals and tourists.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil