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Ribeirinhos: A Sustainability Assessment of Housing Typologies in the Amazon Region

Authors: A. K. M. De Paula, R. Tenorio

Abstract:

The 20th century has brought much development to the practice of Architecture worldwide, and technology has bridged inhabitation limits in many regions of the world with high levels of comfort and conveniences, most times at high costs to the environment. Throughout the globe, the tropical countries are being urbanized at an unprecedented rate and housing has become a major issue worldwide, in light of increased demand and lack of appropriate infra-structure and planning. Buildings and urban spaces designed in tropical cities have mainly adopted external concepts that in most cases do not fit the needs of the inhabitants living in such harsh climatic environment, and when they do, do so at high financial, environmental and cultural costs. Traditional architectural practices can provide valuable understanding on how self-reliance and autonomy of construction can be reinforced in rural-urban tropical environments. From traditional housing knowledge, it is possible to derive lessons for the development of new construction materials that are affordable, environmentally friendly, culturally acceptable and accesible to all.Specifically to the urban context, such solutions are of outmost importance, given the needs to a more democratic society, where access to housing is considered high in the agenda for development. Traditional or rural constructions are also ongoing through extensive changes eventhough they have mostly adopted climate-responsive building practices relying on local resources (with minimum embodied energy) and energy (for comfort and quality of life). It is important to note that many of these buildings can actually be called zero-energy, and hold potential answers to enable transition from high energy, high cost, low comfort urban habitations to zero/low energy habitations with high quality urban livelihood. Increasing access to modern urban lifestyels have also an effect on the aspirations from people in terms of performance, comfort and convenience in terms of their housing and the way it is produced and used. These aspirations are resulting in transitions from localresource dependent habitations- to non-local resource based highenergy urban style habitations. And such transitions are resulting in the habitations becoming increasingly unsuited to the local climatic conditions with increasing discomfort, ill-health, and increased CO2 emissions and local environmental disruption. This research studies one specific transition group in the context of 'water communities' in tropical-equatorial regions: Ribeirinhos housing typology (Amazonas, Brazil). The paper presents the results of a qualitative sustainability assessment of the housing typologies under transition, found at the Ribeirinhos communities.

Keywords: Vernacuilar and Tropical Architecture, SustainableHousing Design, Urban-rural Housing, Living Transitions

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1073525

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