top of page

Competition for Student Housing UNIFESP - São José dos Campos Headquarters


Bruno Braga, Bruno Perdigão, Igor Ribeiro

in partnership with Atelier Rua ;


Luiz Cattony (architect), Mariana Quezado (architect) and Isabela Castro (intern).

​ São José dos Campos - SP, 2014




The exponential growth of the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and the creation of several campuses – such as the Baixada Santista, Diadema, Guarulhos or São José dos Campos campuses, the target of this competition – is at the origin of the need building of student housing to ensure the support and proper study and permanence conditions for the student body, quota students and low-income students.

The design challenge we propose is to develop a modular concept of student housing, which adapts to different locations, programs and environments, with the objective of its possible implementation in different locations, its expansion if necessary, or even the change your program in the future. It is also intended that this challenge can serve as a case study, such as “economic housing”, which is today a topic of special interest in the context of architecture and public policies.

The project establishes a concept of adaptable housing, starting from industrialized production, modulation, mass production of components and the use of prefabricated elements, which lead to the development of a module, a possible repetition system with various compositions.

Through a precast structure of concrete beams, pillars and slabs, the buildings adapt to different types of terrain, morphologies and urban contexts. The use of prestressed concrete promotes the use of space, freeing it for the implementation of housing modules.

The composition of three base modules – a module with four single rooms, a module with two shared rooms and a family module – distributed over the structural slabs, responds to the demands of the program.

The formalization of the module takes into account the possible implementation in different contexts, from high-rise structures in more urban spaces, to a smaller structure for less dense urban contexts, to its possible individual use at ground level in more rural areas. In this way it is possible to respond to different programs.

A third element, ‘plug-in’, is crucial for a good response to the environment and climate. The materialization of the east and west facades is developed taking into account the climate of the location. More permeable facades in warmer climates and the opposite in colder climates. The different materialization of the facades makes it possible to customize each project.

In conclusion, the project is developed from the scale of the room, going on to the set of rooms called the module, to the composition of a set of modules and, finally, to its urban implantation.


On the São José dos Campos Campus, the 12,929.89 m2 plot of land for the implementation of housing, comprising a total area of 214,832.00 m2, is located in the center of the total area belonging to UNIFESP. Its steep slope, with the highest point to the south and the lowest point to the north, allows visual contact with the entire area belonging to the campus. The entire land is surrounded by an Environmental Protection Area that provides independence and physical separation from the existing Academic Area, to the west, and the planned one, to the east. The housing buildings will be organized in a south-north direction, following the slope, with the rooms to the east related to the green area of the Protection Area, and the circulations to the west related to the Academic Area.

At the south end of the land there is access by car to the houses. After control, there is a small car park with ten spaces for visitors, plus three accessible units for people with wheelchairs, two for people with reduced need and two for people with obesity.

Next to the bridge that connects with the Sports Area, there is a public space for central permanence, taking into account the distribution of the houses. This zone works as a distributor for the various housing blocks, also having a direct relationship with the adjacent public program: games room, multipurpose space, movie club and mini-theatre. The entire public program takes place on floor 0, evenly distributed throughout the entire housing area.

To the north, communicating with the Living Area, is another larger public space, also functioning as a receiving and distributing plaza for flows from the road link that divides the area reserved for housing in the Living Area and that communicates with the Academic Areas.

The circulations on the ground floor are made in the projection of the upper galleries, thus maintaining the circulations on the west side of the buildings, in order to protect the east side, where the rooms are, from noise. In addition to the circulations adjacent to the buildings, paths are drawn that cross the courtyards in an organic way, thus creating fluid path alternatives throughout the entire area of the houses. Bike paths are also marked on these routes. The paths are made of porous concrete, which does not prevent the infiltration of water into the land and are dimensioned in such a way as to make the circulation of emergency cars possible.

Several outdoor spaces for parades are proposed, always related to the paths, for reflection and contemplation, both individually and for groups and recreational activities, such as the open-air amphitheater. The aim is to have a free ground floor, for public use, as much in contact as possible with the existing land, where there are shaded areas caused by the upper floors, garden spaces that protect the rooms from noise, permanence and distribution spaces located in points strategic and fluid connections to all points of the Campus.






Two issues were essential in adapting the base architectural module to the terrain in question: topography and solar orientation.

The land has a very steep slope that allows the staggering of buildings. The module's flexibility allowed it to adapt perfectly to such a situation, generating high quality spaces due to the unevenness created. The unevenness starts to act not as a complicator, but as a strategy. The implantation of buildings adapts to the terrain level, creating a set that can be read as a mega-structure, creating a total of 15 interconnected blocks.

Each building is made up of four or six modules, which correspond to two or three floors of housing. These floors, for use only by the inhabitants of the houses, are elevated in relation to the ground, allowing the ground floor to be “released” for a general collective use program. In this way, greater independence is obtained for more private spaces, such as a smaller area of contact with the ground, where a greater number of living spaces is intended. The ground floors of the buildings are covered by a general collective use program and technical areas.

The staggering and interspersed deployment of the buildings, all interconnected through galleries, provide the appearance of interior patios of the same size as the buildings.

Being the coexistence and interaction between students of the Student Housing - as well as between them and the general public - guiding principles of the project, the patios were designed as living areas, in addition to the spaces for general collective use already provided for in the program.

The patios, large internal spaces limited by the building itself, were configured in such a way as to transform areas previously considered to be remnants into zones with multiple functions, contributing, for example, to the lighting of the units and acting as spaces for outdoor activities.

The three-meter-wide galleries, adjacent to the self-service areas, reinforce the sense of student housing, viewing the corridor not only as a circulation, but as a meeting place and, therefore, for conviviality. Through the galleries it is possible to browse the entire area of the houses, always at a higher level.

Each block of modules, each building, has at its southern end vertical communications of stairs and elevators. As the galleries are all interconnected, these vertical communications are publicly accessible to all inhabitants, giving access to different blocks.

Covering the various blocks, through scaling, gains extra importance. In addition to its use for placing solar panels, equipment for collecting and reusing rainwater and other technical equipment, the unevenness of the implantation creates level accesses to the terraces, through the galleries. In this way, living spaces are created on the terraces, accessible to the inhabitants, which fall within the scope of intermediary collective use.


In order to achieve concepts such as ease of maintenance and execution of the building, materials and construction techniques generally applied in the State of São Paulo, adaptation to different topographic realities and flexibility of the designed spaces, the structure chosen to develop the base architectural module was the pillar system -beam-slab in prefabricated parts. These components, manufactured industrially and in series, are manufactured in prestressed concrete, a material that makes it possible to use space, freeing it for the implementation of modules.

The pillars and beams have a spacing of 6m, with a length of 12m. In this way, two structural spans compose a 12mx12m square. This dimension is the basis of module development.

The module, determined with dimensions of 12mx12m, is completely adaptable to the Student Housing needs program, both for the case of São José dos Campos, and for other spatial realities in which the same type of building applies. In the São José dos Campos Campus project, as mentioned, the module comprises three variations, in terms of internal spatial division, a module with four individual rooms, a module with two shared rooms and the family module.

In the three variations, the spaces for private use (rooms) are always located to the east, changing only the dimension of their internal divisions. The rooms, in all their versions, consist of an outdoor balcony and, for each person, a study space, a rest area and a vestibule. In the center there is an area for immediate collective use – the self-service area – separated from the rooms by an access corridor. The self-service area consists of a bathroom area, a pantry area and a service area common to the existing rooms and an access space to the module with a small vestibule per person. Between the pantry and the bathroom there is a void, which provides natural ventilation and lighting for the interior spaces.

The materials used are concrete in structural terms, plywood panel as coating and furniture and non-slip vinyl flooring. On the facades we find metallic elements.

On the west façade there is a space that we categorize to be of intermediate collective use, a living gallery, which provides access to the modules. The generous dimension of the gallery provides a living space planned to stimulate interaction between students residing in nearby modules.

In addition to the structure and composition described above, the module has the aforementioned 'plug-ins', or industrialized elements that connect to the facades in order to provide a good response to its surroundings and climate. To make the building adaptable to the city's environment and climate, two types of 'plug-ins' were chosen: retractable protection panels for the rooms (facing to the east); and horizontal louvers for sealing the galleries (facing west).


bottom of page