Instituto Agente Muda (I AM) seeks to act and project ideas as the present unfolds, planting trees in the first UNESCO World Capital of Architecture, Rio de Janeiro, as a ground zero for new ways to address the relationship between community, nature, and architecture.
The Institute´s founding general assembly was a hybrid event in a double sense, with online and in-person participation of I AM’s founders and special attention to the presence of a non-human member: A Paineira (Floss Silk Tree) seedling, a native Atlantic Rainforest species.
The Paineira tree was planted in a ceremony two days later at a spot of great historic significance to the city: The Trevo das Forças Armadas (Clover of the Armed Forces). In colonial times it was a crucial point where rivers met the Guanabara Bay and formed a vast mangrove. This natural boundary protected Rio from invasions, while the rivers were a source of freshwater for visiting ships.
Today it is the center of a circular intersection of two elevated highways, a left-over space in the heart of Rio’s emblematic landscape, shaped by the city´s aggressive development. The event helped reveal this counter-landscape, which otherwise would stay invisible.
The brand-new institute also helped form the collective APER (Amigos do Parque Ecológico da Rocinha – Friends of Rocinha´s Ecological Park) with residents, activists, architects, students, and researchers. APER has been hugely successful in turning the favela´s degraded public park into a space of confraternization and reflection, by establishing and maintaining a community garden and a monthly cultural event called SUPERAÇÃO (meaning both “overcoming” and “big action” in Portuguese) to help overcome deep traumas and attend to important needs of the community.
In 2022, Danish Cultural Institute contracted I AM as the local agent, facilitator, and producer of the new developments of its Vida Local Rio project; to connect public authorities, companies, universities, and residents. In a collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the intervention “Praia da Bandeira” became the culmination of 30 architecture students´ final project, supervised by four professors. Read more about this project further on.
I AM acts on a belief that thriving communities, rather than grand buildings, is what defines a city as World Capital of Architecture.