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The first notes I wrote after seeing favelas in Rio and Salvador in 2000 ... needs some WikiComposting. (ReadWith) PlanetOfSlums

Note DariusSokolov now lives in one.

How does a Favela get built?

In England, we have very little idea what a shanty town is like. If we imagine poverty we imagine it this way : a large inhuman grey concrete block, stained with rainwater, graffitied joylessly (unless the local authority has paid someone to do it in colours).

Or we occasionally find poverty in other places : a run down row of once respectable Georgian style or Victorian terrace houses. The buildings are good solid brickwork, though the windows may be boarded up. So surprised are TheMiddleClasses to see such good houses have fallen into the hands of the poor, that such areas can at some point expect to be rediscovered and gentrified; either by trustafarian squatters or their elder monied siblings.

But no-one middle class would try to squat a favela.

(Oh yeah? See this : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1711412.stm ... written about a year after I wrote the above. How would HernandoDeSoto react to seeing people leaving the legal sector? )

Because unlike the British vision of poverty, Brazilian slums are not old and falling apart. They are new and unfinished.

They are bricks (and possibly mortar) approaching the condition of the organic. A favela is a human coral reef, whos polyps add to it one brick at a time. And it looks like for any house, each brick may be it's last.

Design is non existant in favela architecture. Each unit, a single, cubic cell, specified in some vernacular pattern language known to the builder inhabitants. Such cubes can be stacked to a certain height, be hung precariously over edges of cliffs, grafted on to existing buildings or packed into the carcass of half built factory.

Hmmm. Favelas are very interesting. And it's one of the purposes of this wiki to keep making connections between different themes including organic architecture, music, design etc. So making interesting parallels between favelas and other design processes is very much appropriate here. But I completely agree with Iggy of Blogalization. Favelas are WretchedAndDangerous places. And our interest shouldn't blind us to the political dimension and the fact that it's a fucking disgrace that anyone should have to live in one. The fact that people do, is a failure of our political activity. If we wanted to we could have the organicism without the poverty. (See LowRoad)

This page is not FavelaChic! In fact, when I get my hands on a digital camera, I think I'll go down the road, and get some pictures for my BlackPlasticBagChic page celebrating the virtues of housing a family of three adults and a couple of kids in a tent made out of bin liners.

My favela experience is small but I saw a slum start up in Kampala. It was quite a nice green patch on a slope and over five years turned into an ugly sea of plywood, binliners, worn out mud&wicker, some brick buildings and level pathways evolved into smelly gullies with trickling grey water and the occasional stagnant puddle. There was slumcreep from the nearby valley plus landlords sublet and the subletters sublet and relatives turned up from the coutryside and someone put on half an extension and the money ran out and another built an upstairs etc. The landlords lose control and call in heavies to get the rent and they work with (more or less) organised crime made up of the dominant local clan of the tribe. Some bits have become gentrified in the highwallwithglassontop sense of the word while other nearby dwellings have been swallowed up by the slum - sublet by subletters etc. It's all organic you're right but it is a miserable and unhealthy place now. However there are huuuuuge and older and worse places like Kibera in Nairobi but Wandegeya etc have been catching up. If you add booze to this mixture then its a bad equation, if you add guns and white powder.... The container is like a reef but the fishes dart in and out as predators turn up. Oh, and the wiring is awesome.

I started off by just wanting to paste this link about slums in England but along time ago now but I got carried away http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/condition-working-class/ch04.htm

-- Rup3rt

As one of the previous correspondents pointed out, the fact that people have to live in favelas or other squatter communities is a failure of our politics, not theirs. When government and the private sector don't provide housing people can afford, don't they have the right to take an unused parcel and build on it for themselves? The question then becomes how their politics and our politics can meet, so that instead of evicting people from their sometimes precarious homes, we can work with them to improve their neighborhoods. For further thoughts/discussion, visit http://squattercity.blogspot.com.

-- RobertNeuwirth

Learning from Slums : http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/03/01/learning_from_slums/

Read more :

CategoryOrganicArchitecture, CategoryBrasil, CategoryBrazil

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Last edited October 9, 2009 9:48 am by PhilJones (diff)