Pedra Balão Masterplan


Sustainable rural development

Located in the rural area of the Poços de Caldas Municipality in Minas Gerais, the Fazenda da Serra is found joint to the Serra de São Domingos municipal park, which forms part of the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve. The area measures 604 hectares and at higher altitude than the urban nucleus.

Despite being located in a rural zone, la Fazenda da Serra is near the urban center of Poços de Caldas and is accessed through the Pedra Balão highway, that is also an access way to important tourist attractions such as such as the Christ the Redeemer, the old cable car and the free flight ramp. Tourist attractions of the city of Poços de Caldas are also found in the Fazenda da Serra: Pedra Balão and Pedra do Dedo de Deus, both currently open to the public.

The studies have as an objective to create a unique identity for the development of the area. The project concept seeks sustainable rural development, through the protection and preservation of environmental and cultural heritage, combined with eco-tourism and lodging.

Situated in the rural area of Poços de Caldas, the area is located near the urban nucleus and adjacent to a Conservation area of the Serra de São Domingos municipal park.

The Project is structured into three steps: the diagnostic, the vision of the future and the development of the masterplan. In the diagnostic step, an analysis was carried out that ranges from the scale of the Poços de Caldas municipality, to identify its profile as a tourist destination, to the scale of Fazenda da Serra, where physical, environmental, urban and legal limitations were identified.

  1. Environmental Limitations/ Challenges and Potentials

In the diagnostic step, environmental conditions, hypsometry, slope and permanent preservation areas of Fazenda da Serra were analyzed.

  • Hypsometry

Fazenda da Serra has an altitude variation of 535m, that range from 1020m to 1555m. The topographical map illustrates the terrain of the site and identifies peaks along with possible points of interest.

  • Pendiente

The calculation of the slope of the terrain is fundamental for identifying areas with excessive inclination for occupation, in addition to identifying the legal restrictions of land use in relation to hilltop permanent preservation areas.

  • Embrapa Slope

The terrain is primarily undulation (4.57 to 11.31 degrees or 8 to 9%). The slope analysis indicates strong undulation concentrated in the center of the site.

  • Permanent Preservation Areas

The permanent preservation areas (APP) are protected areas, with the environmental function to preserve watercourses, the landscape, geological and biodiversity stability, facilitate genetic flows of flora and fauns, protect the earth and the livelihood of human populations. In the Fazenda da Serra there are APPs for natural springs, watercourses and hilltops.

legend: 1) environmental limitations: a) Absorption Zone PMSSD; b) existing access Nucleus; c) Dedo de Deus attraction; d) Permanent Protection Area – Slope > 45°; e) Landscape Potential; f) Access near the center; g) Permanent Protection Area – hilltops; water potential; i) Pedra Balão attraction; 2) hypsometry; 3) slope; 4) Embrapa Slope; 5) Permanent Protection Area.
legend: 1) Ecotourism Nucleus; 2) Flora Nucleus; 3) Look-out Nucleus 4) Cabin Nucleus; 5) Lake Nucleus.

The vision for the future of the Fazenda da Serra is composed of three pillars of use, that correspond to the proposed nucleuses: Sustainable rural land parceling, ecotourism and accommodation.

The land parceling, with a rural sustainable character, promotes the recovery and conservation of the natural environment, with interventions integrated with nature, and the preservation of its rural identity with olive oil production.

The development of ecotourism seeks to consolidate the public use of the attractions and strengthen sustainable tourism. A challenge is to enhance the visitation, improving the existing infrastructure and the provision of services.

The lodgings provide refuge in nature, with exclusive views to the landscape and an architecture integrated with nature.

The main premises for the development of the masterplan were: the connectivity of Sustainable Rural Land Parceling, taking full advantage of existing roads and minimizing any impact on the natural environment; the preservation of green-blue systems; the creation of trails and nature immersion experiences; the preservation of the natural landscape; the preservation of a sustainable rural identity, with minimal occupation indices and distance between buildings; the development of eco-tourism and lodging, with new infrastructure; the reservation of certain parcels for olive plantation in an integrated production system.

legend: 1) Connectivity: Making use of existing highways and creating new connections; 2) Green-Blue system: preservation of natural resources, such as water courses, springs, and native vegetation; 3) Immersion in nature: creation of a circuit of trails and immersive activities; 4) Areas of Interest: valuing and conservation of areas of interest for the surroundings; 5) Sustainable rural: maintenance of the rural sustainable character, distance and privacy between buildings; 6) Ecotourism: improvement of the ecotourism nucleus, with new infrastructure and lodging.

The sustainable rural parceling nucleus counts 89 lots, with areas ranging from 2ha (minimum rural module) up to 3,2. In addition to the parcels, the nucleus consists of an access center, with eco-parks (environmental conservation areas) and an Equestrian Center. The sustainable rural parceling is divided into 3 execution phases.

In the eco-tourism nucleus one can find the new and consolidated tourist attractions, Pedra Balão and Dedo de Deus.

The lodging nucleus contains cabins immersed in nature and support infrastructure.

The eco-tourism and lodging nucleuses correspond to the public use areas of the Sustainable Rural Parceling, where the Pedra Balão and Dedo de Deus attractions and the nature immersed cabins are located. The nucleus will be renovated with the implementation of new infrastructure and services, with the aim of sustainable tourism.

In the Pedra Balão area, we propose the creation of an arrival plaza, a public space to contemplate the rock, where a new restaurant will also be located. Among the new proposed attractions will be treetop adventures, zipline, and the construction of a new well marked trail with look-out points.

The lodgings will be inserted in a sloped area of the site, with an exceptional view of the landscape. It is proposed to build 15 cabins, a number which can be increased in the future and extended to other areas of the site.

A preliminary quote was made for the Masterplan in order to give a reference value for the volume of investments needed for the implementation of the project.