Mathematics has everything to do with nature, especially in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where the most prestigious institution in the Brazilian discipline, Impa (Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics), is nestled in the Atlantic remnant of the Tijuca Forest.
This relationship will be strengthened with the start of construction on the new campus on April 14th. In terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility, the site will be built in an area adjacent to the current one, also in connection with nature, with the most modern locations.
The four pavilions are supported by pillars to minimize the impact on the local fauna and flora. The construction will consist of prefabricated parts, eliminating the need for an extensive construction site and reducing project costs. Rainwater is reused (in addition to land drainage work) and solar energy is obtained with photovoltaic panels.
The new headquarters of Impa with 8,762 m² will be added to the current one with around 12,000 m², only 400 m from the new complex. The area to be built makes up less than 4% of the 251,824.72 m² property donated to Impa by the brothers Roberto Irineu, José Roberto and João Roberto Marinho, the owners of Rede Globo and the group of the same name.
“With a strong connection to the neighborhood in which the company started operations and where it still has its administrative headquarters and the editorial office of journalism, Globo donated the land to Impa, where the new campus is being built, and thus the institution in Jardim Botanical can remain, “said Globo in a note on the report.
More than a decade ago, there was controversy over land use with signatures to prevent a parking lot from being built on the site. According to the broadcaster, Globo did not carry out the project even though the city government had given permission to build the area and decided to donate. “The company is delighted that Rio de Janeiro can host an institution that is a reference in Brazil and around the world for producing high quality scientific knowledge,” the note concludes.
For the mathematician Marcelo Viana, director of Impa, the new campus mainly serves to diversify and expand the institute’s activities, especially at the interface between industry and education.
The institute already has researchers working on topics related to oil production and artificial intelligence, for example. One of the next bets is working with blockchain, a technology that allows you to register and transmit information quickly, securely and transparently on the internet, says Viana, who is also a columnist for Folha.
“In this time of scarcity, we want to bring more and more problems of our time into research and also bring more resources. In the country we have research centers at the highest level, but we still have to bring this knowledge into the production processes from the walls of the academy. Impa has the ability to do this, ”says the mathematician.
Another activity of Impa that has a national impact is the organization and promotion of Obmep, the Brazilian Mathematical Olympiad for public schools. The event brings together 20 million children and young people annually and serves not only as a tool for popularizing science and mathematics, but also as a kind of talent scout: there are many cases of students whose trajectory has been changed by participating in the Olympic Games.
“Mathematics has enormous potential for creating wealth. In some countries math activity accounts for 15%, 16% of GDP, and Brazil does not produce enough, it does not educate enough good mathematicians, ”says Viana.
On the table there is also the possibility for Impa to start their own undergraduate degree, a kind of super math course. It is planned to take the biggest promises in the region under his wing from an early age.
In addition, Impa would like to attract the best mathematicians from other parts of the world – hence the existence of accommodation for house researchers in the new project.
When Impa was founded in 1952, it did not have its own headquarters and occupied a room in the Brazilian Center for Physical Research. In 1957 he moved to a large house in Botafogo and in 1967 to a historic building in downtown Rio. The current headquarters opened in 1981 to cover the contingent of researchers and activities.
The new campus project comes from Andrade Morettin Arquitetos e Associados with the title “Minimum Impact Research Institute”. The design aimed at integration into nature and appropriate climatic modulation of the buildings and won the recognition award from the Swiss Lafarge Holcim Foundation for the architects.
Today Impa is configured as a social organization, ie it receives contractually public funds (the agreement with the federal government expires in 2016, but is currently being renewed) and has the autonomy to enter into partnerships and hire staff.
The expansion of Impa, which is expected to cost R $ 100 million, is supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) and the Ministry of Education (MEC) as well as donations from the private sector. The forecast assumes that the work will take three years to complete.