ARENA DO MORRO
The Gymnasium Arena do Morro provides a vast record of services to the community of Mãe Luiza and to the city of Natal. It offers a diversity of daily activities from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, and they are not only related to sports or leisure, but also to cultural events. All classes and events are free of charge.
After two years of existence the impact of this unique building can be stated as follows.
- The violence in the neighbourhood was palpably reduced.
- The number of homicides dropped by half, whereas it increased considerably in other communities.
- The area around the lighthouse, although still known for robberies and thefts, has been brought back to the neighbourhood’s life.
- Countless international magazines have portrayed the Arena do Morro.
- A wide range of prices and nominations were given.
- The project has been exhibited in museums. In 2016 it will be exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg as part of the exhibition “Building Optimism” (it is one of 10 chosen projects).
- As part of the exhibition the realization of a short film about the Arena do Morro was commissioned to two Chilean filmmakers (Felipe de Ferrari & Diego Grass).
- Due to the national and international appraisal a broader local public started to show interest in the Arena and the mixing of people of different backgrounds and social standings has started.
- As a further consequence the wealthy people, living in the prestigious high rises in front of Mãe Luiza, have committed themselves to get involved in Mãe Luiza and make the now unfunctional high school work.
- More than twenty teachers volunteer proactively at the gymnasium.
Influenced by the overall attention as well as our request, the government generously committed itself to make some investments:
- Two thirds of the tree shadowed walkway, the so called “green street”, envisioned by the architects of the Arena Herzog & de Meuron, have been realized.
- Public spaces such as the market place have been improved by adorning them with colourful cobblestones, providing also games such as chess, adding benches to linger and playground equipment for the children.
- Sidewalks have been improved.
- Mãe Luiza’s main street has finally been tarred anew.
- The waste collection has been organized leading to a much better situation.
- After a landslide pushed its way from Mãe Luiza to the beach in 2015, the opportunity was taken to grant the people of Mãe Luiza direct access to the ocean and a broad stairway was built and the surroundings embellished.
- Last but not least, Natal has received a new shoreline promenade. (Also an idea of Herzog & de Meuron.)
Mãe Luiza has thus become a role-model for other communities in Natal as well as in Brazil. And the Arena do Morro has inspired the creation of the “Charta of Natal”, a social and community movement of Natal.
Only time will show the full impact of the Arena do Morro, but in the meantime we are very excited to see all the puzzle pieces it has put into motion.
As we can see, the impact of the Arena do Morro in Mãe Luiza is deep and multi-directional, born for the sports and cultural activities, transmitting a culture of peace, creating strategic partnerships and with its humanist and modern message, transforming the reality of our city and all of Brazil.
Ion de Andrade, Vice President of CSP, a partner of the Ameropa Foundation
Link to the architect's website Herzog & De Meuron