Xingu Canopies

The history of Brazil’s indigenous peoples has been marked by brutality, slavery, violence, disease and genocide. When the first European colonists arrived in 1500, what is now Brazil was inhabited by an estimated 11 million Indians, living in about 2,000 tribes. Within the first century of contact, 90% were wiped out, mainly through maladies brought over by European colonizers, such as the flu, measles and smallpox. In the following centuries, thousands more died, enslaved in the rubber and sugar cane plantations. By the 1950s, the population had dropped so significantly that the eminent senator and anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro predicted there would be no indigenous people left by 1980. It is estimated that an average of one tribe was extinct each year over the last century. In 1967, a federal prosecutor named Jader Figueiredo published a 7,000-page report cataloguing thousands of atrocities and crimes committed against the native peoples of Brazil, ranging from murder and land theft to enslavement. In one notorious case known as ‘The massacre of the 11th parallel’, a rubber baron ordered his men to hurl sticks of dynamite into a Cinta Larga village. Those who survived were murdered when rubber workers entered the village on foot and attacked them with machetes.   


We were invited to propose a flexible and a multipurpose space for the Xingu Indigenous Park, that aims to collaborate with the preservation of Brazilian indigenous culture. The first of the three sites where the project will be implemented is the new Kisêdjê village. Its recent construction is due to a forced displacement of the community, to escape the daily effects of the use of pesticides in soybean plantations surrounding the indigenous territory.

The community is built around a central square, the largest common area in the village. Their homes, ocas, are basically the same building with small variations. The ocas are made with overlaid wooden pieces and covered with straw. There is no internal compartmentalization, the only room is divided exclusively by a shadow gradation. In this context, however, in addition to the political aspects, is a complex relationship in the indigenous culture, that struggles to maintain itself, while inhabiting a territory in continuous transformation.

The use of low-quality industrialized products, as well as difficult access to proper disposal and reuse are seen all throughout the village, showing the transformation of traditional habits. In this tension between industrialized elements and natural resources, the project is inserted not as an attempt to replicate a culture, but as an element that aim to stress and expose the wealth of Brazilian indigenous culture.

The project’s straightforwardness is also due to the impossibility of contact with the construction site during the building process; models and explanatory drawings were carried out to easily convey the construction process and minimize any possible questions that local builders might have.

Under such conditions, a constructive system is designed with replicability, easy construction, low cost and comfort to the users in mind. Eight main pieces are joined for a simple structural arrangement, assembled with the use of screws, in an attempt to support and prolong the building’s life in the constant mobility of Brazilian indigenous communities.

A covered area that supports different partitions and opening devices, creating different atmospheres and an expanded boundary between the chosen program by the community-classroom, a space for collective meals, an auditorium or anything else–and the open space.


Gustavo Utrabo


Beatriz Rocha


Pedro Kok


ISA (Instituto Sócio Ambiental)


Ita Construtora 


Parque Indígena do Xingu, Mato Grosso - Brasil






368,25 m2


Wood, Brick, Concrete, Metalic Seiling.