August 31, 2010

rio de janeiro

last stop on our south american tour was rio de janeiro where, despite staying in copacabana, we did most of our beaching at post 9 in ipanema.

most notable element of the rio trip was the views of the city's diverse terrain from its many jurassic-park-esque mountaintops.  here's copacabana beach from the summit at sugar loaf mountain...

...and the iconic christ statue overlooking the entire region.

in addition to the mountaintop views, i was particularly impressed by the rio de janeiro cathedral in lapa.  the architecture is evocative of a mayan temple, with four long panels of stained glass that stretch up toward the ceiling creating a cross when you look up.

thanks to my lovely trip roommate tiffany, a few of us got to visit two of the top design firms in rio:  ana couto branding and tatil design.  the whole afternoon totally tickled my design fancy, but the most memorable moment was seeing an actual sample of the laser-etched leaves that put tatil on the map in 2009.

the next day, we took a tour of the favelas, which are the prevalent slums interspersed throughout rio de janeiro.

in the favelas, it's common for residents to steal electricity and cable.  almost every electric pole looks like a rat's nest of complicated bootleg wires, designed to confuse authorities who may attempt to disconnect unauthorized cables.

for years, the residents of the ad hoc favelas were largely undocumented because the basis of civic identification was having an actual address.  but once they named the streets in the favelas, they started to give the buildings numbers.  as soon as the buildings had numbers, the residents had addresses, and 4 million people suddenly became eligible to vote.  it's almost as if they appeared overnight, from the government's perspective.  pretty neat.

some favela kids were performing capoeira in one of the corner squares.

from a design perspective, i was really intrigued by the soda bottle street lights that lined the alleys of the favelas.

nightlife in rio was pretty wild -- the lines for the nightclubs in lapa were long and the samba was loud.  most notable element of rio nightlife:  couples make out in public.  a lot.


Marto said...

just came across your blog whilst doing some research about Rio's favelas and it's come it really useful. Thank you

Ndish said...


Would like to use one of your photos for a publication on Urban Planning.

Would that be ok?

MonicaV said...

Hello from London!

This is a great post, really interesting. I give English lessons in the UK to foreign students and it's always useful to have interesting international topics to discuss with my students!