Catalyst architecture7


Cantagalo Elevator

Producer: Hans Kiib


CANTAGALO ELEVATOR - Vertical Connections

The towers of the Cantagalo Elevator complex consist of prism-shaped metal frames with three concrete cylinders in the supporting structure. The elevators are located inside the prism-shaped skeleton, which has been clad with transparent glass down one side and ‘brise-soleils’ down the other two. The function of the brise-soleils is to protect the inner space and the staircases from rain and excessive sunlight, while allowing breezes from the city to penetrate the environment, thereby promoting natural ventilation. Concrete retaining walls have been built into the rocky hillside as a way to prevent landslides and a new set of staircases has been built along the slope. In addition to reinforcing the slopes, they provide a fine and well–lit emergency exit to the street level.

The Cantagalo Elevator is an architectural landmark for Rio’s new urban politics that attempts to connect the socially segregated city. With its characteristic blue and green towers, elevators, walkways, and platforms, the complex creates physical connections as well as social relations. The wealthy district of Ipanema with its shops, schools, health facilities, public transport, etc. is linked to the poor favela of Cantagalo where residents have had to organize the local infrastructures themselves. The project has initiated a process that, in spite of gentrification tendencies, contributes to the important social and economic development of Rio de Janeiro.

João Batista Martinez Corrêa – head of JBMC – describes the elevator in this way:

“The Cantagalo Elevator is a symbolic link between one of the most affluent areas in Brazil and a neglected one lacking the most basic services. The elevator tower serves as a formal connection between both communities, bringing the informal city to the formal city.  But even more important is that the Elevator brings the sense of urban development and order to the informal community, in a process that will catalyze different passions for the benefit of a democratic debate” (Corrêa, interview June 2014).




Cantagalo Elevator, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Size: The entire complex is 3,099 m2. The largest tower is 73.15 meters high. A metro station provides an additional 4,569 m2  of space.

Contains: A metro station, a building for public services (including police and health), and two towers that contain elevators, metal staircases ,and two observatories with a panoramic view

Architects: JBMS Arquitetura e Urbanismo

Clients: The Municipality of Rio de Janeiro and the State of Rio de Janeiro

Inauguration: 2008

Cost: 40 million BRL/ 13 million EUR/ 16 million USD


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