Children Village is awarded the RIBA International Prize

The prize winner can boast the definition of the world’s best building, and this year the Riba International Prize has chosen the Children Village complex, designed by the Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum studios, located at the edge of the rain forest, at Formoso do Araguaia, in Brazil

The grand jury, presided by the architect Elizabeth Diller (DS+R) together with major names Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), Joshua Bolchover (Rural Urban Framework), Gloria Cabral (Gabinete de Arquitectura) and Peter Clegg (Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio) have chosen the Brazilian school out of the four shortlist buildings that set themselves apart for excellence in design, ambition and social impact.

The core objective of the architects Gustavo Utrabo and Petro Duschenes (Aleph Zero), in collaboration with Marcelo Rosenbaum and Adriana Benguela (Rosenbaum) has been that of making architecture an instrument of social transformation.

Children Village ospita ragazzi dai 13 ai 18 anni.

Children Village, financed by the Bradesco Foundation, covers an area of ​​25,000 square metres and provides accommodation for 540 children (aged 13 to 18) attending the Canuanã School.

Vista dall’alto del complesso scolastico

From above, the building seems to develop under an enormous plate that is a canopy extending over three vast, open and well shaded courts, around which two identical complexes have been designed, one for girls and one for boys, with dorms on the ground floor and first floor common areas where students can read, watch television, play games and relax in the hammocks.

I dormitori a piano terra. Photo credits
Spazi relax al piano superiore. Photo credits Leonardo Finotti

Precisely this vast covered space was the stratagem invented by the architects to cope with the tropical climate that characterises the area, bringing the summer temperatures to above 40 degrees. The extended cantilevered shelter, whose structure consists of cross-laminated beams and wooden columns, in addition to covering the building, creates an intermediate space between the inside and the outside, a sort of comfortable veranda where no air conditioning is necessary.

Copertura a sbalzo. Photo credits

Children Village not only saw the participation and collaboration of the children, teachers and the community in order to better understand their needs and requirements, but also took advantage of the traditional and vernacular techniques. In order to have an ecological and sustainable building, the resources and materials used are local ones, such as walls and dividing elements built with bricks, handmade on site. This procedure creates a strong link between architecture, the environment and the community.


Applications for the Riba International Prize 2020 will open in July 2019. Information can be found on the website