Our approach is collaborative, communicative and holistic. The project demonstrates a way of working, to enhance acceptance and agreement among stakeholders.
Rio de Janeiro is a city with abundant nature, fed by the many streams which fall from the surrounding mountains. At their source in the forests above the city, the rivers run clean with abundant wildlife. However, by the time these waters reach the Guanabara Bay they are heavily polluted, carrying solid waste, sewage and microbes dangerous to the city’s ecosystem. This is the starting point for the Água Carioca Project, a project inspired by the River Carioca, that gives the people of Rio their nickname: ‘Cariocas’.
Engagement and inclusive participation of all stakeholders underpins the Água Carioca Project. Interviews with a spectrum of top-down to bottom-up actors (from the public sector, to researchers, activists and local residents) were a crucial method to achieve this. The emerging design proposals and a video were used as tools to understand, combine and reflect on the multiple perspectives. The project becomes a meeting point for previously opposing or distant viewpoints.
Sítio Burle Marx is a key partner in the project. They contribute their local expertise on planting for the wetlands, as well as hosting the pilot. Realising the full-scale pilot was the most important step in the development of the project so far, enhancing comprehension, even among stakeholders who thought they knew the project. Seeing it live proved to be inspirational for numerous representatives of the municipality and state and other key players, who are now motivated to commission similar prototypes elsewhere.
Every step in the project consciously seeks to generate tools that can be used to educate and communicate about the project, building support and momentum from the very small scale, towards the very large. The project has generated a film (including interviews and an animation), delivered a pilot (at Sitio Burle Marx, see above) and a public exhibition hosted by local partner, Studio-X. These are seen as tools, bringing along stakeholders as the project progresses and ensuring they own the idea.