FUMEC Campus II Master Plan

Architects Alexandre Brasil, André Luiz Prado, Bruno Santa Cecília e Carlos Alberto Maciel
Location Nova Lima, MG, Brasil
Project 2003

The proposal for FUMEC’s New Campus Master Plan begins with the interpretation of what an educational institution should be, and through this comprehension seeks to spatially design interrelationships between places of different natures, in an attempt to articulate their specificities. The project seeks an organization of space characterized both by unity and diversity, through the implementation strategies capable of presenting excellent cost-benefit ratio, both in terms of construction and maintenance, as well as in relation to the topography’s minimum interference. 

Several aspects oriented this proposal’s design, those being the following:

  • The clear demarcation of public and private spaces, differentiating spaces that are fully open to public use, both inside and outside the  institution – such as service square and auditorium-, spaces for the exclusive use of the institution, open to the entire community – central administration and library -, spaces intended for specific occupations for each unit – Teaching Unit buildings: Exact Sciences Center, Humanities Center,  Social Sciences Center. 
  • The characterization of a main accessnext to Serra Avenue, hierarchically dominant road in the surrounding urban context, and a secondary one, next to Vale Street, interconnected by two dominant and main internal circulation axis, which meet orthogonally at the focal point of articulation among all the main buildings: the Central Square. 
  • The Institution’s presence clear demarcation in the place, through an implantation that seeks to reduce the commercial areas built volume impact at the same time it enhances the Central Administration and Auditorium’s presence. Being the most important building, the latter is therefore implanted in a dominant position, being seen by those who arrive from Serra Avenue as well as those who walk up the inner lane. 
  • The valuation of openings towards the surrounding landscape, achieved by lowering the service square and the library and thus allowing the use of their roof as terraces for public use, in contrast with the verticalization of the classroom blocks. 
  • The implementation of landscape capable of thriving under shadows, in the parking lots with evergreen trees, in the pedestrian paths defining the ambiance of shaded avenues, and in the central square with trees that bloom with chromatic variations, contributing to the characterization of the permanence spaces and its differentiation in relation to the esplanades generated by the library and service square’s roof-terraces. 
  • The complementation of the slope next to Campo Avenue, with generous landscaping treatment, in order to facilitate the internalization of the built volumes of the Central Administration and Library to the Central Square. Such interiorization enhances the integration of these buildings with the large open space for the academic community use, while also avoiding movement and noise pollution that will result from future densification of Campo Avenue. 
  • The extensive use of ground level areas through the implementation of the maximum number of parking spaces in ramped plans that avoid large earth movements, always ordering the level differences with landscaped slopes, with a very low implementation cost. This solution allows the project to fully meet the demands on the term of reference, with 1350 parking spaces implanted outdoors and under the classroom building, without building an underground, with only 50 parkings located under the Central Administration building in order to meet the specific demand from directors and administrative staff.  
  • Rigorous ordering of classroom buildings, done through a mesh organization, with dominant North-South orientation, essential to ensure the best thermal comfort inside classrooms. 
  • The individual characterization of each teaching unit for those who circulate on the inner alley, at the same time that they present an alternative possibility of integration through walkways on an intermediate floor as a way to shorten circulations and routes and reduce the demand for the use of elevators. 
  • The fragmentation of each unit into blocks of continuous pavement subdivided into classrooms, research rooms and laboratories, integrated through vertical circulation, in order to avoid the characterization of very extensive built masses, while also allowing better adaptation to the topography through the staggering of the parts. It also allows the configuration of terraces for public use on the roofs and also the future implementation of expansions as continuous blocks in an additive and modular strategy. 
  • Modular coordination of the 10×10 meter structural mesh, which allows optimal use of parking lots, flexibility of the main classroom spaces, construction simplicity through repetition, economy by reducing foundation points, and even flexibility in terms of the construction system, due to its easy suitability for cast-in-place systems – ribbed or prestressed – and industrialized systems – prefabricated in concrete or steel.
  • Compliance with all urban parameters determined by city legislation, providing maximum occupation and use with the lowest environmental impact, counting on a high permeability rate of the soil and the use of intelligent systems for the reuse of collected rainwater.


Accesses, road hierarchies and landscaping

The creation of only two accesses, both for cars and for pedestrians, seeks to ensure greater control and security inside campus, in order to facilitate the eventual commercial exploitation of the parking areas, thereby generating revenues that contribute to the maintenance of the space.

For the definition of internal roads and parking areas, the chosen design seeks to show, primarily,a preference for pedestrians treatment; secondly, it seeks the clear demarcation of the roads through the differentiation of the landscaping; and thirdly, an implantation that avoids large movements of earth, with ramped parking plans interspersed with landscaped slopes and circulations with ramps with gentle slopes, whenever possible over the natural terrain.

The access avenue, which is the main access for cars from Serra Avenue, defines a descending route with the library esplanade and the mountain landscape in the background. A vehicle accumulation lane was planned to facilitate access to the campus at critical times, compatible with local traffic. This internal lane borders the proposed forest in the large depression of the land, to be revegetated with native species remaining from the Atlantic Forest, and receives grand trees, more specifically  white ipe trees, in order to demarcate the perspective of the main access.

The access lane from Vale Street defines, on the other hand, an ascending route, which develops laterally towards the towers that house the teaching units, having the masts set as its focus. Due to its variable slope, it defines a succession of differentiated perceptions of the route in three different moments: first, at the entrance, one predominantly sees the succession of masses built at regular intervals, while the steeper ramp at the end of the route partially hides the square in which the route ends; secondly, when starting the ascent of the ramp, the set of masts proposed for the intersection of the paths stands out and the Central Administration marks its presence, announcing the civic character of the Central Square; in a third moment, when reaching the top, the entire square is revealed, extending laterally towards the library and showing the opening towards the surrounding landscape. Likewise, this avenue is lined with large trees, in yellow ipe trees, in order to emphasize the perspective.

The secondary roads, providing access to the parking lots, longitudinally cuts the voids between the classroom blocks, defining axis of trees and lighting. For them, the project proposes afforestation with medium and large trees, lent and ironwood, adaptable to the local ecosystem, generating shade while also filling the view with remarkable flowering.

For the lighting of public areas, the application of a mixed system is suggested, which reconciles the use of high poles, defining general lighting, with lower points, with a maximum height of 4 meters, in order to eliminate shadows and dark areas caused through the treetops.


Urbanity and the prevalence of pedestrians

Given the character of sociability and conviviality that the teaching process provides, the presence of pedestrians was prioritized, firstly, in a more pragmatic way, through the demarcation of inviting and exclusive routes, which are defined as a priority at intersections with the cars by raising the paving of the road in order to avoid unevenness and thus ensure better environmental accessibility conditions. Secondly, an attempt was made to carefully deal with the transitions between the public space and the buildings, in order to establish places of permanence to be equipped with benches, bleachers, shaded areas and qualifications to receive appropriation by students. In this sense, the main pedestrian entrance starts from the most visible corner, on Serra Avenue, and defines a gently sloping path, following the natural topography, which acquires great vitality by cutting diagonally through the Services Square and sharing the activities that take place there. Afterwards, this path widens and leads to the Central Square, a focal point of articulation of greater public and civic nature, with great potential for the congregation of the scholars. The square, in this case, is a place for meetings and exchanges, enhanced by the main entrances to the Central Administration, the Library and the aforementioned Services Square. Finally, next to the entrances of all the buildings that house the classrooms, the sidewalk expands, defining a square that demarcates the presence of the main access to each of the blocks and configures a place of permanence, whose vitality is achieved through the movement presented by the avenue.

In addition to this set of spaces and routes, an alternative network of aerial routes can also be implemented, allowing access from the Services Square to the higher floors of the classroom blocks. These walkways promote a desirable interconnection between the different teaching units, enhancing the integration and overlap of activities that would otherwise be difficult to obtain due to the vertical approach. They also avoid the unnecessary effort of descending the mall ramp to a lower level, or taking the elevator to return to a level close to that of the event square, which would result in a more intensive use of the elevators and thus greater energy consumption. With the walkways, new hierarchical arrangements between public and private spaces can be established inside the buildings of each teaching unit, as public access happens on more than one level, in addition to enabling covered and protected interconnections from the rain and sun.



The project foresees the determination of the main supply lines of infrastructure in such way that the shortest possible route to supply all the buildings is achieved, coinciding with the two main avenues. The solutions vary according to the specificities of each system, as seen below:

Structured cabling (logic, computer and telephony networks): for structured cabling systems, the systems’ configuration on four levels proved itself desirable: the first, defining a main control that houses a computer center with the institution’s servers, located in the Central Administration; from this, a main line interconnects all the bases of the buildings, defining control rooms for the derivations in each teaching unit; in these, technical rooms will be provided on each floor in order to house control cabinets for the installation. The structured cabling system, as it allows great flexibility in the arrangement of communication and information technology facilities, represents a fundamental contribution of technology for teaching, as it enables the integration of all teaching and research spaces to the institution’s servers, as it also enables cost-effective an integrated internal telephone system at the same time it also allows future expansions of equipped laboratories and special classrooms with direct access to the Internet. Finally, the distribution of logic and cabling networks will make use of flexible systems, apparent whenever possible, in order to reinforce the ease of adapting the spaces for the most varied activities that will take place there.   

Potable water: given the urban characterization proposed for the institution, it is considered more technically and economically appropriate to implement a potable water distribution network, in partnership with the concessionaire, in this case COPASA, which runs along the main avenues, executing individual inlets for each unit, which would house individual reservoirs of smaller volume. The measurement may be a single one, next to the public place, or fractionated for each unit, in order to allow operational independence, mainly for the Service Square and the commercial spaces foreseen therein. This strategy of decentralizing reserves for consumption and fire minimizes the initial costs of implementing the system by avoiding the construction of a large reservoir in a tower, which from the outset should meet the complete demand generated by all buildings, even if not yet built.

Sewage: considering the excellent situation that the sloping topography provides for the definition of a master sewage collection network gravity operated, the project foresees the creation of a linear network, which starts under the main internal alley, next to at the entrance towards Serra Avenue, and continues under the service road that connects the parking lots at the lower portion of the land, leading all the sewage to the area close to Vale Street, at the lowest level. This area is the best location for the installation of a sewage treatment plant, with the goal of separating solid waste and allowing the infiltration of liquid waste, after its treatment in a septic process. Due to the high cost of treating sewage for its reuse, this process wouldn’t be done in this initial implementation of the Campus. However, bearing in mind the possibility of an economic viability of such a process in the medium term, its possible future implementation can be considered, with a possibly larger area being allocated for this purpose.

Rainwater: given the large portion of the land being occupied by parking lots with semi-permeable paving, most of the water volume generated by rainfall will infiltrate directly into the soil. In the impermeable areas, resulting from the roofs of the buildings and the paving of the main avenues with smooth interlocking blocks, the rainwater is collected and conducted to an underground reservoir, located at a level lower than the building with the lowest implantation. The water stored there, recirculated by pumps to sprinklers in the garden areas, constitutes an important water resource for irrigating the landscape, especially in periods of greater drought. An alternative to the use of collected rainwater is an independent system for flushing toilets in buildings. Especially in the rainy season, when more water accumulates and the plants require less irrigation, this solution results in considerable savings in potable water consumption.

Garbage storage and collection: considering the urban character that the organization of the campus determines, it is necessary to define a solid waste storage and collection system that ensures the proper functioning of the complex, whilst also encouraging the practice of selective collect and recycling. To do so, the project seeks to implement decentralized rooms, in each unit, for the storage of solid waste. Such waste should be concentrated in a collection and selection center (on a regular basis to be defined according to the average accumulation of waste)  implemented at the lowest level of the terrain, next to the sewage treatment plant, in an area adjacent to Vale Street. In this place, the selection of recyclable material and organic non-recyclable waste would take place, with direct access from the street to make public collection service procedures feasible without interfering with everyday academic life. 



The architectural guidelines seek an adequate cost-benefit ratio, at the same time it praises the possibility of modular implementation with construction done through stage. The end result presents unity, characterizing the FUMEC institution for those who appreciate it from outside, and diversity, capable of demarcating the specificities of each unit, enabling coherent responses to their demands of use. In this regard, the following is proposed:


– Service square and arrival terrace

In order to facilitate its use by both the academic community and the external public, the service square is located at the most public end of the lot, directly accessible from Serra Avenue. The choice of this location, if favorable from a commercial point of view, risks preserving the image of a service center as the image of the Institution. In order to avoid this undesirable situation and reconcile the needed proximity of the service square to the street without harming the image of the educational Institution, the lowering of the referred square and its built mass is proposed, preserving the opening of sight towards the landscape and reinforcing the presence of the tallest building, which is the Central Administration.

Establishing a downward path that starts in the corner, a gentle ramp cuts through the service square and shows itself invited to the public necessary for its operation.


– Central Administration and Auditorium

Starting from the same corner, a leveled lateral esplanade leads to the Central Administration building’s fourth floor, where the project proposes the installation of the Auditorium, in order to grant it an eminently public character, to allow its use both by the academic community and by external audiences. Its plastic exploration is allowed by its allocation in an area of ​​extreme visibility from Serra Avenue, leading to the appreciation of its volume as an icon capable of conferring monumentality to the complex at the same time it clearly marks the presence of the FUMEC institution inside the urban context, enhancing the Central Administration building, highlighting its uniqueness in relation to the others. Therefore, the institution’s character will be defined by the monumentality and the plastic treatment of a single dominant element, the Central Administration building, thus allowing the adoption of more austere and economical constructive systems and architectural languages ​​in the other buildings, which represent a greater sum of built-up areas and, therefore, more significant investments. This contrast also reinforces the hierarchies between the different blocks with regard to the differentiation of their public and private character.


– Library

Amongst the three buildings for collective use – Central Administration, Services Square and Library – the latter is the least used by the external public, although it holds a grand demand of use by the academic community. Due to this specificity and the need for greater environmental control in the building, especially in regards to the control of noise pollution, the Library occupies the lower portion of the area intended for this set of buildings. It thus distances itself from the main vehicle circulation routes, being sheltered in relation to Campo Avenue by the expansion of the slope that already characterizes this side of the land, while still preserving the necessary proximity to the classroom buildings.

The Library’s implantation respects the forecast of three floors, as determined by public notice, but organizes them in such a way that enables a simple and economical intervention in the topography, by opting for a staggering between the floors. This strategy, in addition to allowing more varied explorations of internal spaces, also provides great privacy and interiorization of the building’s main areas, predominantly facing east, being the access floor the only one opened towards the square. This solution also allows the configuration of a large terrace on the roof of the entire building, which significantly expands the central civic square, allowing a greater variety of events and outdoor activities. This terrace also sets up, albeit temporarily, a lookout point over the valley landscape. 


– Teaching units: Exact Sciences Center, Humanities Center, Social Sciences Center

The teaching units are designed as vertical towers whose heights are always lower than the maximum 35 meters above Serra Avenue. The towers have 12 floors of classrooms, a floor of pilotis corresponding to the main entrance at avenue level, and either one, two or three levels of parking below the entrance. These parking lots are designed based on the recognition of the topography’s variation, without requiring any cut through the ground or any costly containment works, as they are not located underground. The buildings are organized in blocks, interspersed with vertical circulation cores and support spaces – toilets, technical rooms, balconies and small patios on each floor. During the first stage of implementation, the construction of two blocks per teaching unit is proposed, with only one core of vertical circulation, in order to enable the achievement of the built area demanded for each unit according to the Term of Reference (approximately 20,000 m² per unit). As a future expansion, the building of a  third block attached to each of the units is planned, with complementary vertical circulation. This third block expands the initial area of ​​each unit by 50%. In addition to these three blocks, the construction of a fourth unit is also planned and, due to its individualized implantation, it can respond to the demand of a fourth Teaching and Research Center, in order to allow a future transformation of the University Center into a University.

Every unit has an access level next to the main avenue, which features a sociability pilotis, with great potential to house the most diverse equipment and common activities related to the specificity of each course or faculty. Below this level, taking advantage of the variation in the sloping topography, a parking level is installed in the first block, at a higher level, on the natural terrain. In the second block, two levels are installed, the first continuous with the parking lots and the second with ramp access from a higher level of the natural terrain, in order to reduce costs with the construction of ramps. Finally, the third block, which implies the expansion of the classroom areas of each unit, allows the construction of three parking levels, the lower one on the natural terrain, the second one with ramp access from the highest level of the terrain, and the third one connected to a second level at the second block. This greater number of parking spaces is a coherent response to the increased demand that the expansion of teaching areas will generate, ensuring comfortable and safe operation for the academic community.

The 12 classroom floors and teaching activities are distributed above the entrance floor. Due to the difference in level between the blocks, and between them and the service square and the rectory, the aforementioned alternative aerial circulation through walkways allows the definition of an intermediate level of access in each unit, creating alternatives for organizing the various hierarchies between the blocks activities of teaching, research, extension and administration specific to each unit.

Large terraces are created on the roof, guaranteeing the continuity between the blocks of each unit. In these spaces, widely open to the extensive view of the landscape, the creation of areas to accommodate physical activities – courts for different sports, outdoor or covered, and eventually even a swimming pool with semi-Olympic dimensions – represents a viable alternative that takes advantage of its large dimension, transformation spaces usually intended for technical equipment into public use areas. Far away from the bustle of the city and the campus, open to fresh air and overlooking the landscape, these terraces provide spaces for physical activity and leisure that are much more adequate than ground floor occupation, avoiding undesirable conflicts with car traffic, parking lots and noise that would compromise teaching activities.

The design guidelines for teaching units foresees the use of rigorous modulation, with a single module of 10×10 meters, in order to allow maximum flexibility in the arrangements of the various activities that make up the differentiated program of each faculty. To further achieve so, the vertical circulations, sanitary installations and technical spaces are concentrated in previously demarcated service blocks, as they define centralized situations that imply the shortest escape routes, in compliance with fire prevention and fire fighting standards. The larger faces of the blocks are oriented in a north-south direction, displaced by 2 degrees in a southeast/northwest direction, due to better conditions for controlling the internal environment that such orientations allow. On the facades facing south, large openings are designed, eventually providing for small marquises to protect against rain. On the facades facing north,the use of solar attenuators is suggested, preferably horizontal brise-soleil, with spacing and depth carefully calculated to avoid direct incidence inside the classrooms, considering the inclination of the sun’s rays during winter solstice. In the east and west orientations, the study of blind facades or with a minimum of openings is suggested, in order to avoid compromising the habitability of the classroom spaces, especially during the early hours of the morning and late afternoon. 


Future Campus expansion possibilities

Considering the possibility of acquiring new areas surrounding the site currently owned by FUMEC, in order to enable future expansions, the total suitability of the proposed urban system for such is provided, given the viability of simply extending the originally planned circulation network.

If the land acquired is located below the current property, the continuity of the access roads to the parking lots and the implementation of new blocks, with the same characteristics as those initially planned, are highly viable, taking advantage of the previously installed urban infrastructure. Only a new sewage collection branch would be necessary, to be implemented at the lowest level of the new land.

If land acquired is located above the current property, the main avenue with access from Vale Street, which initially borders one of the sides of the land, would become a central road, originating access routes towards the new towers and corresponding parking lots towards west, following the same logic already determined for the teaching units initially implemented to the east of referred avenue.

If the land acquired is located adjacent to the excavated depression, next to Serra Avenue, it is possible to consider the implementation of a large events center, along the lines of a multi-purpose gymnasium, taking advantage of the excavated slope to define the bleachers in order to reinforce its amphitheater like quality. This implementation, in addition to being extremely economical for such activities, minimizes the impact of such a large volume on the site, as it occupies the depression. It also allows great ease of access for the public at highest levels, next to the street, and also direct access to the academic community at lower level, close to  where the base of the gymnasium would be installed.