Rio de Janeiro: Design Thinking for Healthy Urban Environments [Columbia University GSAPP Master's Urban Planning Studio - Spring 2017]

The Design Thinking for Healthy Urban Environments studio was conducted from January through May 2017 by a team of 12 researchers, one teaching assistant and two adjunct professors at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York City. The studio centered around using urban-scale design thinking strategies to improve residential health conditions for those living in the Rio de Janeiro social housing complex formally known as Conjunto Residencial Prefeito Mendes de Moraes (Pedregulho). Through archival and on-site research, collaborative design processes, and community feedback loops, we developed a toolkit of seven project actions, designed to be implemented individually or together in stages.

Members of the Pedregulho community and the Columbia GSAPP Rio Studio team, which used mixed-media methods (such as the gif) to convey their connection to the site and the project.

Members of the Pedregulho community and the Columbia GSAPP Rio Studio team, which used mixed-media methods (such as the gif) to convey their connection to the site and the project.

The initial premise of the studio, and its focus on design thinking, was an understanding that the built environment and its associated social and economic structures affect health systems as a whole, especially the health and well-being of individuals living in an urban setting. This understanding led to a mixed-methods research process that combined case study research and onsite experiences. The project deliverables were the documentary video written, filmed, and produced by our studio team, as well as a 100+ page printed and published report, accessible below. These deliverables were presented to the Columbia GSAPP Studio Review Committee, as well as to be given to our Client, the community of Pedregulho, to use for self-advocacy and community development.

Below are selected diagrams, photos, and renders from our Project Toolkit, each reflecting the concept, process, and goals of our seven project actions. Photos taken by various members of the studio team. Renders designed by Eric Pietraszkiewicz. All diagrams and Gantt charts designed by James Piacentini.