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BELO JARDIM CULTURAL SQUARE: A public space for a town in NE Brazil

Design team: Ana Rolim and Vera Freire (coletivo-rt), Isac Filho and Gustavo Tenório (Adpt design), and Juliano Dubeux Arquitetos Associados.

From Friday through Sunday three design firms, including Ana Rolim’s Coletivo-rt studio, interacted with inhabitants of all ages and backgrounds from the city of Belo Jardim, NE Brazil. In less than 48h, during a collaborative design marathon, the team presented a plan for a new public space to be located in the heart of the city. A local industrial group donated the plot where the Belo Jardim Cultural square would be located. The marathon was sponsored by such group and organized by Fab Lab Recife.

Artisans, students, retirees, millworkers, musicians, educators, and local businessman participated in the marathon, pointing out things they enjoyed doing in a square, as follows: See nature, sit on benches, be close to bus stops, see people, and watch time pass. As dislikes, the group highlighted the feel of insecurity, lack of care and benches, missing greenery, seeing the use of drugs, and not having a beautiful place to capture a selfie.


After two rounds of presentations and debates, the following overall design guidelines were collectively established: the square should be a SPACE OF INTEGRATION between the surrounding Centro and São Pedro neighborhoods; it should promote the feeling of SECURITY and have GENEROUS SHADING, with medium and large size trees; it should establish an active relationship with surrounding CULTURAL EQUIPMENTS (music school, movie theater and old cookie and sweets factory), and the URBAN FURNITURE should be produced with DIGITAL FABRICATION technology and assembled by LOCAL COMMUNITY members.


After the design marathon, schematic design, design development, and construction drawings phases were completed. Prior to submitting drawings to building department and other local agencies for approval, the project was again presented and discussed with city dwellers. It was fully approved by all parties. The construction is now ongoing and we are excited to go back to Belo Jardim and start activating the space together with its citizens.

Aerial view highlighting the layout based on main urban axis

A design marathon generates the proposal

The group putting together the final presentation

Likes and dislikes of city dwellers regarding public squares

Overall project idea: a cultural and educational public space

Strategies resulting from design marathon

Main axis with locally produced red clay tiles and bamboo screening

View through gabions from playground area

Locally sourced wood and steel canopy with sculptural fence in the back

The sculptural fence seen through one of the gabions

The sculptural fence transforms a barrier into a playful, inviting element

Gabions mark the paths and frame views while canopies provide shading

Typical canopy + gabion module

Drone shot from earlier construction phase

Drone shot of construction phase

Playground area: Ongoing construction

Main axis: Ongoing construction

Main axis: Ongoing construction

Ongoing construction showing detail of green area and sculptural fence around soccer field

Ongoing construction showing detail of green area and sculptural fence around soccer field at left