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AMPHIBIO: A home for a fishermen's community by the mangrove - 3rd Year Design Studio

Studio professors: Ana Rolim & Dyego Digiandomenico

Project authors: Emily Bezerra and Matheus Andrade Lima

Under the Limoeiro Bridge, in the city of Recife, Brazil, there is life beyond the mangroves. Historically, it connected the cities of Recife and Limoeiro, today it camouflages other relationships: between professional and amateur fishermen; between regional knowledge regarding the construction of boats and the resistance of one of the last artisanal shipyards in the Region; or, in a non-positive way, between the large accumulation of garbage and the almost sterility of the Capibaribe River.

Deprived of any infrastructure, it is on the riverside soil, alongside the last remnants of the city's natural mangrove and social ills, that those who fish for a livelihood or as a "sport", adapting to the tidal cycles, organize themselves informally. This proposal arises in this context, that is, from the need to physically shelter the association of fishermen and organize the production cycle, generating storage facilities, pier, walk-in freezer for storing fish, changing rooms, accommodation and a fish and seafood market.


Focusing on the preservation of local tradition and culture, river recovery and recycling, an artisanal shipyard and an educational sector will be integrated into the design of the fishing terminal and headquarters of the association, aimed at teaching the construction techniques of boats and fishing, and research related, mainly, to the depollution of waters. The fishing activity relates to a hybrid habitat, sometimes in water, sometimes on land. It is similar to amphibians (Amphi = Double and Bio = Life), present in the mangrove fauna, whose life cycle is closely associated with the hydrological cycle.


Besides anatomical similarity, we intend to mimic the adaptive behavior of these beings, which inhabit land and water, justifying the adoption of a stilt typology, which allows the preservation of the building regardless the condition of the tide.

The issue of adaptability and the peculiarities of the mangrove soil also served as a guide for the structural design, which made use of steel parts that guarantee load relief on the foundations, and are easy to assemble and disassembly, in case of flooding or isolation for environmental preservation. It also reduces construction time, besides being 100% recyclable, ultimately providing greater sustainability.

 From slender steel pillars, the building, like the flora of the mangrove, rises in search of a breath, this being, therefore, the concept behind the free spans and the envelope, which made use of a hollow steel membrane whose also geometric pattern alludes to the repeated texture of the region, allowing for ample circulation/exchange of air, favoring not only thermal comfort but also wide views.

The placement of the building at the site was guided by the axis located between the main pedestrian access street and the river, which split it into two linear blocks, in compliance with the morphology of industrial structures in the surroundings. A 5m x 5m grid (16 ft x 16 ft) defines the layout, which favors the topography, solar incidence and direction of the prevailing SE and NE winds. One blocks houses the fishermen’s specific needs (meeting room educational sector, storage, dressing room, shipyard and accommodations), the other serves the general public, containing a fish market and bar, with a large deck and access to a pier.

 Mimicking textiles from boat sails, a tensioned canvas connects both volumes, adapting to the context of water, sea air and abundant sunlight. The large deck, in addition to protecting the market below, and the bar/restaurant and the shipyard, serves as a screen for the promenade and a permanence area with a clear view of the river.

View from the river

Site conditions

Interpreting the site

Mapping main site elements

Form-generating diagrams

Site model with proposal positioned to privilege its relationship with the river

Main building components

View from main access at street level

The building skin is porous and cools the interior temperature

The patio and the connection between the two volumes

Roof plan

Overall aerial view

Longitudinal building section

Ground and 1st floor plans

Building cross sections

Overall view from access street

View from patio facing the river

View from patio facing the access street

Structural and building skin detail

View from patio towards main access

View from pier

View from bar on ground floor with void towards restaurant above

Shipyard on ground floor


View from 1st floor towards inner patio

View from pier

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