Emerging Brazilian practice Metro Arquitetos have revived the sloping streetscape of Ladeira da Barroquinha, a major pedestrian axis in the historic centre of Salvador. Their elegant stairway connects the Glauber Rocha Theatre to the Gregório de Matos Foundation at Barroquinha Church in a modern, daring way.

A heavily trafficked route to the bus terminal and home to a bustling street market, the homogenous intervention is cleverly organised to facilitate juxtaposing pedestrian flows. Bound on one side by a retaining wall, a ramp and continuous steps encourage onward movement, while opposite, elevated plateaus following the natural incline of the site and integrating with respective existing building levels are suggestive of a more relaxed pace.

A seamless organic sweep is formed by the merging of the two, dissolving boundaries and opening up views to Barroquinha Church. Portuguese mosaic paving and solid granite thresholds, traditional materials of the historic centre were applied with modern building techniques including water jet laser cutting for precision on curved and geometrical edges.

‘With a total of 2,500 sq m the whole area was equipped with benches, tables, bike racks, new lighting and landscaping which gave the entire complex not only the character of an efficient passageway and important landmark but also of a pleasant area to sojourn, contemplate the scenery and preserve the traditional leather market which for many years has been in this same place,’ explain the architects.