Recycle+Build Brazil is a project started by Thule ambassadors Maria Kuzma and Pedro Oliva to build schools in low-income areas that are fully self-sufficient and connect with their local environment.

Maria Kuzma and Pedro Oliva stand on the platform of a multi-colored building while looking out and smiling.

Connecting with nature

A building made of predominantly recycled materials... A new school wing harvesting rain and solar energy,... A plant-based filtration system to treat wastewater... These are some of the things Recycle+Build, a pilot project for low-income housing, is working on.

Thule Crew members Maria Kuzma and Pedro Oliva are the forces behind Recycle+Build. She is known as one of the best Freeride snowboarder on the planet while also being a dedicated architect. He is an adventurer, professional kayaker and an activist focused on reconnecting people with water, especially rivers and waterfalls.

Together, they are championing a global movement using sustainable architecture and sport to empower children and local communities to love and protect their local environments. Starting in Brazil.

We talk to Maria about how the project came about.

A close up image of Maria Kuzma looking to her left and smiling.
Maria Kuzma stands in some vegetation while taking a picture with her phone.
Maria Kuzma and Pedro Oliva sit on the ground and smile while Maria is sketching in a notepad.

Tell us about the Recycle+Build Project

The project was born from the encouragement and support of Thule and Pedro Oliva, who is now my project partner. Pedro and I shared the same vision regarding our passions for nature and sustainability, so we set off to create something that implemented sustainable systems for low-income communities. Last year, we received confirmation from a local municipality for a site that fitted perfectly with what we were trying to achieve. Since then, we have been working on this site while I’ve continued to snowboard and to develop other Recycle+ Build projects.

What do you want to achieve?

Our overall aim is to apply what we have learned in our Brazil project to many other projects. Our Recycle+Build Brazil project intends to raise the collective awareness of the building users and their relationship with waste, water, and nature.

Maria Kuzma stands at the front of a classroom while talking to a class of students at a school.

Can you tell us about the different entities involved in this project?

Sometimes, it really feels like we are all part of a coalition dedicated to active change.

The Sao Jose dos Campos based recycling factory ’Dutrafer’ is a substantial contributor to the project, providing recycled materials and space to treat and prepare them.

The vegan superfood company biO2 Organics is providing building material upcycled from their own products. Ceiling and wall lining panels made from their Tetra Pak packaging is one example!

The governing municipality supports Recycle+Build with the paperwork we need when it comes to applications and, of course, a site for the project that neighbors a public school. Once we deliver the building, the school and its students will be involved with maintenance and education schedules. This will ensure a constant interaction and activation with the rainwater harvesting and plant-based water filtration systems.

Our consultants are themselves super inspiring!

Maria Kuzma stands on the edge of a cliff while looking out into the sea.

Is there more to come?

Yes! A second Recycle+Build project is in the works, as well as a collaboration between Recycle+Build and Garden Studio, a New York City-based project with social entrepreneur and multimedia artist Sarah Kjelleren. Garden Studio’s mission is to connect and empower a global network of individuals to drive positive social change through enriching urban environments. Their goal is to merge nature and technology to improve the quality of life for freelance workers. Cities will have to meet the needs of the projected exponential rise of independent workers, who will outnumber non-freelancers within a decade. Garden Studio wants to create affordable housing and enriching coworking spaces for young creatives.

“My true inspirations are nature and people that push boundaries and think beyond the norms”

You are a Thule ambassador. What is it like?

To me, being a Thule ambassador means working hard alongside like-minded ambassadors towards a hopeful future for everyone and representing a company that shares the same values.

Pedro Oliva loads Thule bags into the back of a car on the beach while Maria Kuzma stands in front of the passenger door.
Pedro Oliva and Maria Kuzma sit on a bench while smiling in the sunshine.
A close up image of Maria Kuzma wearing a black baseball hat and smiling.

Maria Kuzma
Born in Brisbane, lived in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Zealand, New York, Bali and Austria. Mother is Philippina/Spanish and father is Scottish/Polish
Snowboard freerider, surfer, architectural activist, and co-founder of Recycle + Build
To compete on an international level and to explore and be exposed to as many different aspects of the architecture industry as possible

A close up image of Pedro Oliva wearing a black baseball hat and smiling while holding a kayak paddle.

Pedro Oliva
2 children
Set the world record for highest kayak waterfall plunge in 2009 at Salto Belo, Mato Grosso, from a height of 39 m (127 ft).
Traveled across six continents and jumped from 40 meter high waterfall, but most of all proud of being a father to his two children

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