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Passarela Carioca aspires to blur the hard edges that divide Rio’s hill top favelas from the formal city below by extending the beach side calçadões (boardwalks) into and through the favelas. The calçadão morphs into an elevated passarela (runway) that meanders through the hills, edging the favelas, bringing public infrastructure up to the informal city. The footbridge structure combines a hanging monorail system on its underside, basic infrastructure in the middle (water, sewage, electricity, etc) and a pedestrian and bicycle walk/leisure area on the top. As this infrastructural spine stitches the formal and informal cities, smaller vertical and horizontal arteries sprout from its structure creating low income housing in the wealthier areas and planting well-to-do homes in the favelas. Furthermore, smaller stems infiltrate deeper into the favelas taking infrastructure where needed.

The infrastructural system created is reminiscent of the native pendant heliconia plant (bird-of-paradise) with its bulbs continually growing from its stems. In the project, the bulbs are analogous to the newly created houses, whose existence is dependent on the nurturing spine. Most importantly though, at a social level, the stem connects every carioca, programmatically combining all that is essential for their living and everything that is intrinsically important for them: infrastructure, public space, the giant passarella, and a three-dimensional calçadão, which becomes the daily stage for buoyant carnival inspired gatherings.

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