imagineRio is a searchable atlas that illustrates the social and urban evolution of Rio de Janeiro over its entire history, as it has existed and as it has been imagined. Views of the city created by artists, maps by cartographers, ground floor plans by architects, and urban plans by city leaders all drawn from iconographic, cartographic, and architectural archives around the world—are located in both time and space while their associated visual and spatial data are integrated across multiple databases and servers. It is an environment that offers new ways for historians to visualize specific sites of inquiry, for architects and urbanists to see proposed design projects in situ, for literary scholars to map out novels, and, among others, for archaeologists to delaminate the layers of their complex stratigraphy. Users can also run searches by polygons, change the transparency of georeferenced maps and plans, and consult a "film strip" that shows all available views, maps, plans, and aerials for a particular year. Scaled down into a mobile version, scholars, tourists, and residents alike are able to walk about town while visualizing the city as it once was, as well as it was once projected. Rio de Janeiro's urban history is particularly well suited to being captured in such a temporal map considering how much the city's natural environment, urban fabric, and self-representation have changed over time.
Developed by professors Farès el-Dahdah and Alida Metcalf in collaboration with Axis Maps, imagineRio is currently being supported by a Digital Art History grant from the Getty Foundation, thanks to which it will be possible to seamlessly integrate temporally accurate geographic data with visual data from the photography collections of the Instituto Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro. The project would also not have been possible without the financial and technical support of Rice University's office for Global and Digital Strategy, Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, Fondren Library nor without content from the Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro, and Arquivo Nacional, among many other sources.