Young Architects 2023 Architecture

Architecture Studio Estudio Flume Builds Community Before Anything Else

Portrait of Christian Teshirogi and Noelia-Monteiro by German Nieva. All images courtesy of Estudio Flume.    

Estudio Flume's portfolio may be limited to Brazilian landscapes thus far, but when the studio expands beyond its roots, the field of architecture—and the world at large—will be better for it. Founded by Noelia Monteiro and Christian Teshirogi in 2015—with the addition of Marina Lickel in 2019—the studio is based in São Paulo, but regularly takes on social and environmental projects in remote areas across the country. “We work across different biomes,” explains Monteiro. “Each one is an opportunity to learn about the areas’ different geography, weather conditions, and activities. Our projects always have the goal to improve the conditions of the communities we are working within—the learning process before construction is the most important phase.”

Photography by by German Nieva.

But Estudio Flume’s holistic practice reaches still further, providing its clients and their communities with tools and frameworks in addition to built spaces. In 2022, Estudio Flume completed construction on a new building in Sumauma village in the Vitória do Mearim district of northern Brazil that now serves as a place of work for about 40 local women, who grow and break babassu coconuts that are then transformed into oil and flour. Built using portable machinery that will remain permanently at the site, and with bricks made of dirt from its grounds, the new building—which features large spaces open to the outdoors and an elegantly pitched roof—offers shade, ventilation, and light, enabling the babassu coconut-breakers to preserve their historical way of working. It also minimizes travel needs: the closest city, São Luís, is about a four-hour drive from the remote locale, and variation in water levels in the region makes river transport necessary at certain times of the year, when roads are often flooded. Altogether, these factors will allow for a possible expansion of the project in the future—one led by the community itself.

Photo of the Babassu Center by Maíra Acayaba.

Other recent initiatives include a beekeeper’s workshop in Canaã dos Carajás, a fisherman’s kiosk on Jaguanum Island, and an ongoing agroforestry project in Apuí. The latter—located in an area that the studio describes as “one of the most deforested regions in the Amazon”—is a prototype that explores the possibility of planting in deforested soil, a response to the devastation in the region that largely resulted from former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s time in office. The studio’s research is still underway, but Apuí’s inhabitants are already learning how to introduce new economic and ecological approaches, such as rainwater management, to their landcare practices.