The floats of the Rio Carnaval are one of the main spectacles that take over the city, in tandem with sparkling costumes, live music and samba dancing. The Rio festival is one of several carnavals that Gia Wolff, a Brooklyn architect and designer, will be researching via a Wheelwright Prize offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her winning proposal Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats intends to investigate the tradition of carnaval parade floats and the performances of local communities in cities like Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Goa (India), Viarreggio (Italy), Nice (France) and Santa Cruze de Tenerife (Spain).

Wolff writes:

The float transforms the city. Its scale makes exterior streets into interior rooms of street theater….This research ties into contemporary interests in performance and architectural notions of mobility, temporality, spectacle, urban space, and community-based design.

The Wheelwright Prize provides early-career architects with a traveling fellowship dedicated to fostering new forms of architectural research informed by cross-cultural engagement.

Gia Wolff is an associate professor at Pratt University and is an adjunct assistant professor at Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union. In past projects, Wolff contributed to urban installations, theatre and set design productions. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design and a Masters of Architecture from Harvard GSD.

Get in touch with the author @mariauntapped.