Amazon Vernacular Architecture

Lessons of sustainability to the formal space of Manaus, Brazil

Amazon Vernacular Architecture

Lessons of sustainability to the formal space of Manaus, Brazil

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    Life on the Amazon Waters

    Supported by Research in Practice Grant from the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, “Life on the Amazon Waters” was filmed in August 2022, in the floating community of Catalão (Iranduba) and in the stilt communities of Xiborena (Iranduba) and Careiro da Várzea.

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    Life on the Amazon Watersd

    “We hope that, through this documentary, audiences will gain a deeper appreciation of the traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations, seeing the potential of this knowledge to build a more sustainable and harmonious world.” - Danielle Khoury Gregorio

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    Life on the Amazon Waters

    These dwellings are expressions of a material culture that follows precise knowledge and techniques, an essential condition for adapting to the demands of life on the waters.

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    Life on the Amazon Waters

    Amazon basin water levels vary throughout the seasons and, therefore, the building structure needs to adapt according to those changes.

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    Life on the Amazon Waters

    Architect Danielle Khoury Gregorio has released a 30-minute documentary “Life on the Amazon Waters” to develop a deeper understanding of local construction processes and issues related to sustainability and housing, after receiving a USD 75,000 Research in Practice Grant (RPG) from the Holcim Foundation.

Inspired by indigenous vernacular architecture to empower riverside communities. This research tackles the critical housing deficit in Manaus, Brazil, by innovatively integrating local aspects and drawing inspiration from traditional Amazon riverside architecture.

Last updated: March 18, 2024 Manaus, Brazil

Research in Practice Grant (RPG) Recipient

  • Buoyant Housing in Brazil

    Danielle Gregorio

    Khoury Arquitetura, São Paulo


Emphasizing respect for customs, culture, and landscape, it challenges conventional social housing design standards. Historically, such interventions have displaced riverside communities, disrupting established ways of life. This research is committed to empowering these communities by embracing cultural identity and implementing sustainable, contextually relevant design principles. Spanning three phases, the research first explores traditional riverside communities, resulting in the documentary "Life on the Amazon Waters," challenging stereotypes and capturing architectural strategies.

External reviewers

The second phase adopts a community-driven design approach, creating a replicable social housing model that integrates local culture and addresses urban challenges sustainably. The final phase focuses on organizing and disseminating information, with the publication "Building with Nature" and the documentary showcased at international festivals and educational institutions. Engaging with local authorities aims to influence housing policies, integrating research insights into future programs. By combining traditional wisdom, innovative design, and community involvement, this research seeks to instigate positive change in housing policies and practices across Amazon cities.

RPG Updates