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AA-NAi Micro-Revolutions Visiting School

AA Micro-Revolutions Visiting School

The goal of the joint Architectural Association and Netherlands Institute of Architects (AA- NAi) Design Workshop in São Paulo was to explore the rehabilitation of otherwise obsolete, residual and overlooked urban environments, communities and physical materials, through urban analysis discussions as well as through the use of innovative computational design and digital fabrication processes to define a new generation of digital design that employs both high-tech and low-tech strategies.  High-tech digital design generation techniques and high-tech digital fabrication methodologies were combined with low-tech use of recycled materials and additional low-tech assemblage techniques that could be adapted by local inhabitants, inspired by a Brazilian tradition of creative use of simple materials, embodied in works like the Campana Brothers, Ernesto Neto, and even Nilson Garrido Sports Academy.

With the impetus provided by the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the organisers, sponsors and local micro-agencies seek ways in which sports culture can transform troubled urban environments. In response, so to encourage grassroots sports participation, this Workshop worked on the design and production of prototypes to complement the outdoor sports facilities of the Garrido Boxing Academy in São Paulo, which is an informal, free sports venue under the viaducts, founded by Nilson Garrido, a former boxing champion, in order to give poor local inhabitants new opportunities, discipline, and self esteem. Actually attracting a cross-section of social-economic groups, the Academy, which has an improvised boxing ring, old punching bags and donated, yet dilapidated gym equipment, and even donated library books and classroom chairs, has been a media sensation, featured in numerous documentaries and international exhibitions. Because of its successful social impact, the city of São Paulo has donated other under-viaduct spaces for Garrido to create new centres, while the Secretary of Sports of São Paulo is seeking to improve the conditions of Garrido’s existing sport centres. The Design Workshop intervened in these spaces by using digital fabrication techniques to produce strategic small installations like seating, storage, lighting and water systems, to extend the activities, accessibility and visibility of the Academy.   The intense, nine day, studio-based workshop brought together over 65 students and twelve tutors from Brasil, Equador, Bolivia, Germany, Spain, England and Holland.  High-tech design included parametric digital modeling design instruction using Rhino Grasshopper, as well as digital fabrication using computer-numerically controlled (CNC) fabrication, including rapid-prototype, laser cutting and CNC routing. Low-tech design involved digitally incorporating and exploring networks of recycled material around the site, for example, finding depots of used tires, PET bottles, plastic seats, pallets, metal reinforcement bar, and even old C.D.`s to employ in the new site interventions, and finding simple assemblage techniques, for example providing  digitally produced metal-bending templates for manual metal-bar bending. The high-tech and low-tech were combined by connecting recycled material components using digitally fabricated joint elements. The workshop culminated in presentations of design proposals as well as 1:1 prototypes in a dramatic final review, where students` voices competed with the loud noises of passing cars and trucks, in the filtering light and echoes under the viaducts, followed by an action-packed boxing match. Attracting the attention of local media as well as local inhabitants alike, these interventions continue in the tradition set out by Nelson Garrido, to recycle marginalized communities and materials in creative, ornamental ways, developing future athletic champions, to transform the ordinary into the sublime.


AA : Franklin Lee and Anne Save de Beaurecueil

NAi : Ole Bouman and Jorn Konings


AA :  Lawrence Friesen, Jeroen van Ameijde, and Valentin Bontjes van Beek

NAi : Cesare Peeren, Jan Konings, and Zineb Seghrouchni

COMPUTATION/DESIGN TUTORS: Yoojin Kim, James Kwang-ho Chung, Kim Azevedo, Ernesto Bueno, Regiane Pupo, and Josiah Barnes
+55 11 3062-3522
Al. Tietê, 17
01417-020 São Paulo SP