Marks Barfield conceptualises £6.4m walkway through the Amazon Rainforest
A bold new science centre has been proposed for the Amazon Rainforest. The project, worth £6.4m, will be located in Xixuaú Xiparina, a secluded region of untouched forests in Roraima, Brazil.
As well as a science centre where serious research can be carried out, a walkway spanning 6 miles will rest in the canopies of the rainforest. Scientists from the Royal Botanical Gardens and universities will be able to use the centre and the walkway to study the canopies. The leading research bodies will include Kew and the Brazilian Amazon Research Institute. Tourists can simply enjoy the majestic views through the forest.
The traditional communities living in the area have always worked to protect and preserve the rainforest. Their livelihoods depend on the small-scale extractive activities they carry out, such as harvesting Brazil nuts and rubber. The project will give back to the community, by providing jobs for local tribes and attracting more tourism.
The Xixuaú Xiparina region is currently under the management of the CoopXixuaú Co-operative, formed in February 2010 by the local community. With a focus on sustainable living, the area is thriving with the development of a new school and a solar-powered satellite internet connection for example, and further economic opportunities to come.
Mark Barfield Architects are designing the project, and are well known for their landscape work, such as the London Eye and the walkway at Kew Gardens. David Marks of the practice believes bamboo can be used as the primary construction material. The design already incorporates solar energy. Of the forests fragile ecosystem, Marks says: “It doesn't support a lot of people in the natural state. You have to be very careful about what you bring in.”
The Amazon Charitable Trust is the charity backing the scheme, with financier Robert Pasley-Tyler at the forefront. Members include John Hemming and Bianca Jagger. The centre aims to be non-profit and self-financing. The trust hopes to make the area the first profitable extractivist reserve in Roraima.