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COHOUSING IN THE PANDEMIC:Living Downtown Recife - B.Arch final thesis
Author: Beatriz Bueno / Advisor: Ana Rolim
Catholic University of Pernambuco (UNICAP), Brazil

This project proposes a cohousing solution to address infection control challenges in collective living, especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to foster safe social interaction while avoiding isolation, a common issue in traditional residential complexes.




Located in downtown Boa Vista, Recife, the site falls within a Moderate Built Environment Zone, characterized by a blend of 19th-century townhouses and modernist buildings. Despite urban infrastructure, the area faces low population density and housing shortages due to urban migration trends.




The project draws inspiration from the systemic notion of a cluster, adapting to varied urban conditions. Influences include the works of architects Alison and Peter Smithson, Laura Mardini Davi, and Josep Maria Montaner. Cohousing concepts by Chris and Kelly Scotthanson, Emily Darling, and Jessica Bittencourt, as well as pandemic architecture studies by the MASS Design Group and Flávio Bicalho, inform the design.




Reinterpreting modernist architectural elements, the design recalls protruding features to combat extreme sun exposure. The layout maximizes the allowable construction area, incorporating dense and permeable layers for access and disinfection zones. Terraces, balconies, and green roofs enhance the building envelope.




The project includes various shared spaces such as shops, collective laundry, vegetable gardens, and reception on the ground floor. Residential units, along with communal areas like games, dining, kitchen, and storage, are spread across upper levels. Greenhouses and gardens adorn the rooftop.




A sustainable cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure supports the building, enabling efficient cantilevering and load support.




Green roofs enhance thermal and acoustic comfort, while vegetation improves air quality and promotes a sense of community. Circular shafts house a water treatment system for reuse, irrigation, and rainwater harvesting, emphasizing sustainability.

Overall view from the street

Diagram of research poles

Timeline - cohousing initiatives and pandemic episodes throughout history

Aspects of the cluster system compared to traditional housing

Site map

Boa Vista neighborhood, downtown Recife

Diagram of built and population density in the area of study

The overall study site with potential lots (indicated in white) to be occuppied by cohousing

Project guidelines

The overall program and volumetric configuration

Diagram of sustainability

Ground floor plan

Vegetable garden on the ground floor

View from street at ground level

Collective spaces on the 1st floor

Corridors as collective spaces

Residential floor type 1

View from balcony in residential unit

Residential floor type 2 (access to apartments)

Cross section BB

View from rooftop

José de Alencar Street Elevation

The proposed design is applied in other plots in the neighborhood, as per previous research

The proposed design is applied in other plots in the neighborhood, as per previous research

The proposed design is applied in other plots in the neighborhood, as per previous research

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