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Productive Hub Communities

New relations between architecture and civil society are coming into being worldwide, many of which follow a reversal of urban development. The huge yet real potential that such transformation is triggering cannot set aside the comprehension of that "Common Ground" wisely investigated by the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2012, directed by David Chipperfield. This visionary architect - sensing the important challenges imposed by globalization - proposed to look into new values that the community would share in the near future on a "common ground". In such a horizon, the work of Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) - an international research laboratory for urban planning, design and communication, which acts in global contexts - fits in perfectly. The team was founded in 1998 by Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner and since then has been developing new-generation infrastructure and facilities for many years: places of connection between city portions able to create spaces which trigger social relations. Their aim is bringing quality and services in vulnerable urban areas, but most of all sparking off catalyst processes for future development. Many U-TT projects come into being inside the so-called topographical amnesias: unfinished architectural works, left in their structural skeleton. Another theme of investigation is the reclamation of urban voids and residual areas exposed to hydrogeological risks, such as the ‘Fabrica de cultura Grotao Community Center’ in São Paulo. This project - to be completed within 2016 - is situated in the territory of Paraisopolis-Grotao, inside a “void” up to now inaccessible due to its physical and social characteristics, yet central in the urban context, because it neighbors one of the richest areas in São Paulo. The ‘Fabrica de cultura’ derives from local music groups’ will to benefit from some dedicated spaces. That is how the idea of developing a productive Hub Community came into being: in fact, the ‘Fabrica’ embraces - in an architectonic structure which is flexible and modifiable in time - an important educational and productive programme, able to create a new urban centrality and a new relations network open to all social classes. This project envisages a structure with cultivated terraces, in order to maximize the morphological and landscape potential, as well as stabilize its slopes, preventing further erosion phenomena of the natural cavea. To such cavea is linked - through a bridge - a steel structure containing sports equipment and the Music School, with teaching rooms, rehearsal and concert halls. The ‘Fabrica’ serves as an example of how inhabitants and architects are transforming design and planning, by involving institutes, financial and social capital, communities and no-profit organizations in an integrated process.

Picture credits:  © Urban-Think Tank Architects LLC

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01 - Urban-Think Tank _ Grotão - Before

02 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - After

03 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - Overall Plan

04 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - Level 000 Plan

05 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - Level 100 Plan

06 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - Level 200 Plan

07 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - Level 400 Plan

08 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - View A

09 - Urban-Think Tank Grotão - View B

10 -  Centro de Acção Social por Música - Grotão, Paraisópolis - Under Construction

11 - Centro de Acção Social por Música - Grotão, Paraisópolis - Under Construction


Credits of the project

Centro de Acção Social por Música - Grotão, Paraisópolis

Project Credits:


Secretaria Municipal de Habitação De São Paulo (SEHAB)

Elisabeta Franca, Maria Tereza Dinitz


Urban-Think Tank Architects LLC

Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner

Project Architect:

Michael Contento & Lindsey Sherman

Project Team:

Maria Augusta Bueno (Architect of Record/Brazil), Thiago Duarte, João Paulo Daolio, Baldomero Navarro, Carlos Guimaraes, Carolina Montilla


Acoustic Engineer:

Dr. Eckard Mommertz

Mueller-BBM International GmbH

Sustainability Engineer:

Thomas Auer, Daniel Pianka


Water Engineer:

Eric Rothstein, Ian Lipsky

eDesign Dynamics

Structural Engineer:

Holger Techen

Imagine Structure

Envelope Engineer:

Marcel Bilow

Imagine Envelope

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