Piscinão de Ramos is an artificial beach and chlorinated swimming pool along the very polluted Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone. The “piscinão,” which translates to "big pool" in English, is surrounded by fifteen favelas. Because the government of Rio de Janeiro failed to provide fully operational sewage treatment plants, Guanabara Bay had become so polluted due to high fecal bacteria that the state built a pool to provide access to clean seawater for its North Zone residents. According to the AP: “The average fecal pollution rate is 78 times that of the Brazilian government's "satisfactory" limit, and 195 times the level considered safe in the U.S..
However some residents believe the pool was built to keep residents of Rio's poorer north region from the touristy and luxurious south zone beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema. Before its creation, the community of Ramos had beachfront access to the bay, where 70% of the city's sewage is dumped. In 2001 the water was declared too polluted to swim in and the state of Rio de Janeiro created the piscinão to bring access to the beach and clean water closer to the North Zone residents.
The Piscinão de Ramos holds 30 million liters of filtered and chlorinated seawater, and can attract about 80,000 visitors over one single, sweltering hot weekend. Samba, pagode and Brazilian funk blare from giant speakers under tarps in neighboring kiosks, creating a party atmosphere for beachgoers who spend hours bronzing under the tropical sun. It is loud, colorful and crowded. But one thing is certain; Cariocas - residents of Rio - love the beach.
In collaboration with the World Photography Organisation (WPO) and Sony’s Global Imaging Ambassadors (SGIA), Panos Pictures created ‘#Future of Cities’, a documentary photography project that looks at some of the problems, solutions and trends shaping cities globally. #FutureofCities is a multi-platform project with its own website, social media campaign and touring exhibition.