The informal city constitutes the central body of this exhibition. Detailed blueprints, statistical data and definitions of social, political and spacial characteristics are shown. In other words, analyses of the territory’s precarious occupations – of that part of the city which does not have legal urbanization – where subdivision of the land is uncontrolled and the buildings have no planning, resulting in so called spontaneous settlements, having little or no infrastructure and services.
The Paraísópolis favela, and its strategic proximity to the Morumbi district, serves as the background for this exhibition. An object of study and an example of the São Paulo informal city, it reveals all the problems of its surroundings and the development of various proposals articulated here.
The exhibition goes further. It presents 18 projects for seven different favelas, also the result of various situations of international collaboration, with projects drawn up by architects of recognized worth. São Paulo agglomerates more than 1,500 favelas and an immense challenge to transform them into districts integrated within its territory. This is a reality common to almost all metropolises on all continents. Creating a network of successful experiences, resulting from the ideas of architects and urbanists, represents a good way forward and a good model for the universalization of necessary and possible practices.
The visit that Christian Whertmann, a professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), made to São Paulo in August, 2007, beginning with some already urbanized areas in the region of the water sources, allowed him to create the course “Alternative Infrastructure for the Informal City” The participants developed, by means of the suggested proposals, interventions in the Cantinho do Céu and Paraisópolis settlements, utilizing alternative technologies for water, sewage, energy, erosion control and transport.
Simultaneously, students of the Sustainable Urban Living Model, from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, coordinated by professors Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner from the Urban Think Tank group (U-TT), made a thorough study for Paraisópolis, with proposals for housing, infrastructure, parks and leisure areas, among others.
At the Rotterdam Biennial, in October, 2009, the theme of which was the Open City: Designing Coexistence, the subcurator of the event, under the direction of the architects Rainer Hehl and Jorg Stolmann, selected for the section Squat the work of six architects for the Paraisópolis community presented here.
The projects will be approached under four headings, in the form of tactical operations that best represent the problems of favelas. Identified with the most important problems of the informal city, they will make possible a critical view of the work shown.
CONNECTIONS, that translates the meaning of connecting the territories of the informal city to the formal one and building sustainability;
TRANSITIONS, refers to project interventions that exploit the links between public and private spaces.
FRUITION, proposes alternative solutions to the traditional techniques for drainage, water use and recycling systems. The highlights are those alternatives that seek the sustainability of these urban systems.
TRANSFORMATIONS, displays projects that result in changes in the existing morphology, like areas occupied precariously that are transformed into parks, new homes or spaces for circulation.