Antonio Moya 1

Antonio's Story

Lighting the cultural “spark” that provides meaning to a transformed urban space

For his master’s thesis, Antonio worked in the mega-city São Paulo, transforming an informal hillside trash dump in the Jardim Colombo neighborhood into a community art and education space.  The project was a collaboration among Arq.Futuro— an urban planning and architecture collective in Brazil—, the MIT Urban Studies and Planning, MIT-Brazil, and residents of the Jardim Colombo community. With Arq.Futuro focusing on the physical design of the park/space, Antonio set out to give cultural meaning and relevance to the space by organizing an arts festival— the “spark” that would engage local residents to occupy and maintain the transformed public space.  The six-week preparations for the festival were an opportunity to engage with the community in workshops and interventions in recycling and sustainability, carpentry, landscaping, gardening, photography, street art, and youth education.  The day of the arts festival itself included theater, martial arts, and music presentations, as well as a participatory session where local residents contributed their own architectural visions for the park and contributed ideas about cultural activities— providing momentum for future, locally-empowered action. Antonio is currently a Ph.D student at Cornell University where he continues innovating projects on urban cultural and architectural intervention.


  • Antonio Moya 2
“My experience in São Paulo was deeply transformative, both professionally and personally. The day of the festival was spectacular, and everyone involved was emotionally moved! This project has been, without a doubt, the most professional and emotional experience of my life, and could become a reference case for other projects in the field.”
  • Antonio 3
“I have been in charge of a group of around 15 people working on the project, and I feel that I was able to manage the group effectively, despite that Portuguese was not a language that I dominated when I arrived two months earlier. The project itself evolved into an extremely intense and emotional experience; and daily life in São Paulo is very hectic and inspiring. I couldn't imagine a better internship here. We have to present our project to people from MIT and Brazil, I really think it is going to become something important... Thank you!”
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Gretchen's Story