Wheelwright Prize Lecture: Gia Wolff, “Floating Cities”

On the eve of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Carnival, the line of floats stretching from Samba City to the Sambadromo creates new city blocks that challenge our typical understanding of the sidewalk-street-block stratum. This slow-moving parade of architecturally scaled objects raises the question: Who is actually performing, the carnavalesco or the pedestrian? The building or the float? The city or the procession? These visually magnificent floats, among the largest in the world, possess an intangible power that draws from their deep-rooted relationship to the urban fabric and to the diverse communities that build them. As part of Gia Wolff’s ongoing Wheelwright Prize research devoted to carnival constructions, this lecture will focus on the surprising, temporary urban transformations seen in Rio de Janeiro specifically, and share additional small-scale projects inspired by this long-term investigation.

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Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office at (617) 496-2414 or events@gsd.harvard.edu.