This proposal for the Ladeira focuses on the earth that supports Afro-Brazilian cultural heritage, using extensive landscaping and rammed earth for new additions to the site
Changes to Lina Bo Bardi’s Coati restaurant, bar, and casas involve the addition of a kitchen and distillery on the ground floor of Casa 7
Lina’s buildings are tied to the plaza above with a linear museum dedicated to the Baianas de Acarajé of Salvador
The museum connects to the terrace of the bar, where drinks and food made with locally sourced ingredients celebrate the legacy of the Baiana women
The ruins on the lower half of the Ladeira are transformed into a space of communal domesticity and accommodation for quilombolas and terreiro members from the surrounding region
An affordable comedoria appears carved out of the earth and is supported by the adjacent core of kitchens and a pottery studio that supplies earthen vessels
The renovation consists of interior rammed earth volumes that stabilize the extant masonry walls with connecting floor plates that are topped with a layer of earth
The building is capped with vegetation and terra cotta roof tiles, blending in to the landscape behind it and evoking the initial overgrowth
The ruins connect via a bridge to the espaço mato (forested space) on the escarpment above, which consists of Mata Atlantica reforestation, a cashew orchard, an apiary, a medicinal garden, and a sacred pond
The garden is the most intimate outdoor space, obscured from public view through the strategic terracing of the espaço mato
The Ladeira da Misericórdia is a steep street in Salvador that straddles a geological fault. Tying the historic upper city to the lower commercial district, the Ladeira was once an important colonial passage, but remains abandoned today. Lina Bo Bardi intervened on the street in the 1980s, designing the Coati restaurant and renovating three buildings. This studio thus offered us not only an exceptional site but also an exceptional architect, a patron saint of sorts, whose ethos we could choose to emulate. We were tasked with a program of housing plus a cultural anchor of our choosing, and were required to develop a preservation strategy for the decrepit buildings on the site.
For me, understanding the cultural nuances of Salvador meant stepping back to look at regional dynamics: the surrounding bay is dotted with quilombos, agrarian communities descending from runaway slave camps, and terreiros, spaces of worship for practitioners of Candomblé that often include sacred forests. These communities face increasing threat from militant groups and the Bolsonaro administration, but it is their Afro-Brazilian traditions and cuisine that form the backbone of Salvador’s tourist industry, which in turn has displaced thousands of residents from the historic center over the last 40 years.
My project offers a space of autonomy for these communities, using rammed earth to celebrate their ways of living, to index new additions to the site, and to expand on Lina’s ferroconcrete experiments. My intervention into the ruins takes the form of a communal casa that provides temporary accommodation for visiting quilombolas and terreiro members, where eating and cooking is the main occupation. Orchards and gardens support these activities and provide space for gatherings while protecting the site from tourist traffic through elaborate entry sequences. My proposal attempts to address the inequities that undergird Salvador’s cultural economy, while tying the site to the hinterland communities that have long supported it.
This project owes its soul to Lina Bo Bardi, drawing from her light architectural touch, her attention to detail (down to designing door grills and imagining menus), her love of vernacular art and construction, and her unrelenting commitment to the people she built for. It is from Lina and this studio that I learned what it means to be a good architect: to nurture a spirit of listening, to celebrate the beauty of what already exists, and to offer something that can dance with it.