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Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum’s Brazilian school scoops RIBA International Prize

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Aleph Zero + Rosenbaum’s boarding school on the edge of the Brazilian rainforest has been named the world’s best new building

The Brazilian architects’ Children Village, a 540-place school in the northern state of Tocantins, saw off competition from three other shortlisted projects to scoop the coveted RIBA International Prize 2018.

They were: O’Donnell + Tuomey’s limestone-clad addition to the Central European University in Budapest, a virtuoso music school in Tokyo by Nikken Sekkei and an eco-skyscraper in Milan by Boeri Studio.

Canuanã School is one of forty schools run by the Bradesco Foundation, which provides education for children in rural communities across Brazil.

The 25,000m² building is organised into two identical complexes, one for girls and one for boys, centred around three large shaded courtyards.

On the first floor are a number of flexible communal spaces, ranging from reading spaces and television rooms, to balconies with hammocks, where the children can relax and play.

Designed for the tropical climate, the school features a large canopy roof made of cross-laminated timber beams and columns. It was constructed using local resources and techniques. Earthen blocks hand-made on site were used to construct the walls.

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said: ‘Aleph Zero are philosophical and thoughtful architects and Rosenbaum is known for their work with local communities. Children Village provides an exceptional environment designed to improve the lives and wellbeing of the school’s children, and illustrates the immeasurable value of good educational design.’

Children Village illustrates the immeasurable value of good educational design 

Gustavo Utrabo and Pedro Duschenes, directors of Aleph Zero, said they were ‘thrilled’ at being awarded the prize. ‘It has been a joy to see the children making the building their own and adapting the space to fit their needs. Kids will make their own play and have imagination to burn.’

Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela, directors of Rosenbaum, added: ’This award strengthens our understanding of architecture as a tool for social transformation, a tool that transcends construction and creates a deep connection between young people and their ancestors and knowledge.

The RIBA International Prize is awarded every two years to a building that exemplifies ’design excellence and architectural ambition, and delivers meaningful social impact’. 

In 2016, the inaugural accolade was awarded to Grafton Architects for their ’bold yet considerate’ university building, UTEC (Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología) in Lima, Peru. 

The RIBA International Prize 2018 jury was comprised of architects Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA, Joshua Bolchover of Rural Urban Framework, Gloria Cabral of Gabinete de Arquitectura and Peter Clegg of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. 

Children village, rosenbaum + aleph zero, photograph by leonardo finotti(26)

Children village, rosenbaum + aleph zero, photograph by leonardo finotti(26)

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