Maré Complex: Theme of the International Ideas Contest


Launched under the aegis of the 27th World Congress of Architects – UIA2020RIO, held in Rio de Janeiro from July 19 – 23, 2020, the International Maré-City Ideas Contest targets Architecture and Urban Planning students from all over the world. Aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs), this competition showcases projects proposing innovative architectural and urban design solutions that integrate low-income communities in the Maré Complex with the rest of Rio de Janeiro. This Contest is organised by the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the Brazilian Institute of Architects (IAB), with backing from the UN Habitat. Registration is open until March 30, 2020.

The top three entries will win cash prizes of € 3000, € 2000 and € 1000, with Honourable Mentions for three other projects, paying tribute to renowned Brazilian architects Demetre Anastassakis, Roberto Burle Marx and Luiz Paulo Conde. All six winners will also receive a Swiss Mido watch. The winners will be announced on June 1, 2020, with the winning solutions presented to the public during the 27th World Congress of Architects at an exhibition opening on July 21.


Located in the industrial North Zone, the Maré Complex is among the largest low-income settlements in Rio de Janeiro, with sixteen favela slums and a population of about 140,000. More than 40,000 homes feature many different architectural morphologies, ranging from self-built shacks to government housing projects. The site selected for this Contest is located between the cluster of favelas and a major thoroughfare (Avenida Brasil) that is currently occupied by largely abandoned warehouses and industrial buildings. The challenge raised by this Contest is to design solutions focused on local residents and their connections to the City.

"Favelas are defined as informal areas, due mainly to non-compliance with local urban codes. The predominant view of a single, regulated and normative city clashes with the reality established by fast-growing and unregulated urban sprawl. This means that architects and urban planners must rise to the challenge of analysing and proposing an innovative concept of the city as a place of difference and diversity," comments Fabiana Izaga, one of the organisers of the contest and a member of the Executive Committee of the 27th World Congress of Architects.

Committee president Sérgio Magalhães adds that "There is no way of dealing with favelas without considering their spatial relationship to their surroundings and the formal city built in compliance with the regulations."

Collective Construction

In order to define the Contest guidelines, the UIA2020RIO Executive Committee reached out to the Observatório de Favelas, a civil society organisation for research, consultation and public action that focuses on lessening social inequalities. “We were invited to participate in the preparation of the Term of Reference guiding the students' work. In addition to presenting the history of the Maré Complex, we also explain how public spaces in the region are used, highlighting the priorities of the local population and underscoring paths of relevance and legitimacy for the proposals submitted by entrants in this Contest,” says Observatório de Favelas Director Aruan Braga.

He has high expectations for the return of this initiative to the Maré Complex: " As this is an ideas contest, there will not necessarily be any practical application of the proposals. However, beyond this, Maré and favelas in general will be addressed as urban references. This Contest helps reposition and resignify this Complex at the global level. I also believe that dialogue with people from other backgrounds, other cultures and trajectories, can contribute to the work already under way in the favelas. Diversity is very powerful for building solutions."

Special Jury

The Contest jury consists of internationally renowned professionals, including the Regional Director of UN-Habitat for Latin America and the Caribbean Elkin Velasquez Monsalve (Colombia); the UIA Community Architecture and Human Rights Work Programme Director Nadia Tromp (South Africa); and the Secretary (2004 – 2008) for Urban Development Alejandro Echeverri (Colombia), who was the driving force behind the social transformation of Medellín. Completing the team are Brazilians Verena Andreatta, former Secretary for Urban Planning, Infrastructure and Housing (Rio de Janeiro); and Gustavo Utrabo from the Aleph Zero architecture firm, who designed the award-winning Moradas Infantis project in Tocantins State.


Architecture students from all over the world may participate in this Contest, as long as they are attending courses regularly. Entries may be submitted by multidisciplinary teams of up to five members, but only students of Architecture, Landscape Design, Urban Planning and Urban Design may sign projects as authors or co-authors. Students from other professional areas may be listed as team members, contributors or consultants. Each student may participate in only one solution.

All entries must be submitted in English, the official language of the contest, necessarily examining integration between the Maré Complex and the rest of the City, including links with Avenida Brasil, with proposals for new connections and intersections.

The call for proposals for the Maré-City International Ideas Contest is available (in English only) at https://www.uia2020rio.archi/concurso_en.asp#itemA1.



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