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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Favelas - Global Challenge and Opportunity

The Challenge

Slums or "favelas" are a distinguishing feature of the world’s "megacities." Caracas, Hong Kong, Manila, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro would be different places if slums were not part of their landscapes.

Slums or "favelas" are a distinguishing feature of the world’s "megacities." Caracas, Hong Kong, Manila, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro would be different places if slums were not part of their landscapes.

Since the Favela Bairro Program, PAC, MCMV until the current Morar Carioca, a great experience was built capable of being used in different contexts nowadays. Socio-spatial structuring plans, coordinated by the public power, with participation of projects receivers and with consistency in the coordination of urban, architectonic, environmental and infrastructural aspects, are the path in order to redirect our urban age.

The favelas in each country and in each city shows peculiarities and scales that determine the need for a specific approach, grounded on reading the place structure, in the "listening" of demands and multidisciplinary intersection.

It is necessary to start from the analysis of the historical configuration process of each settling, its consolidation degree, cultural characteristics, manpower specificities existing in the place, location in the city group, its relations with the context, and existing densities. Once the place "radiography" is done (Reading scheme of the place structure), the "listening" of demands is accomplished (not in order to be replied but to be interpreted), the existing central focuses are identified, then it is possible to reinforce their potential by introducing new centers (21st Century Agoras), articulating the place with the socio-spatial logic of the city.

The favelas are part of the urban landscape of great cities of countries extremely unequal in the distribution of the benefits of the economic growth, and they are the conception symptoms of the quantitative "development" and of one random socio-spatial distribution in the territory accomplished without planning.
Urbanizing favelas requires articulating physical aspects (infrastructural- urban - environmental), social aspects (economical - cultural - existential), ecological aspects (mental ecology – social ecology – existential ecology) and the citizen’s safety matters (safety policy strictly associated with the public space concept) with the problems of contemporary individual (changes in the work relations, interpersonal relations, communication relations, with their consequences in the individual and collective space). The megalopolitan “socio-spatial” magma is the intersection field of public policies, communal initiatives, NGOs actions and public interest projects, as well as the place where all the ideals are compared.

The problems to be tackled by the urban scope project involves from the policies for the generation of work and income, sociocultural inclusion, financing adjusting for the access to habitation and adequacy of the infrastructural networks and public transportation, to the citizen’s safety and the creation of an environment favorable to life and the differences familiarity. It also involves the definition of well-prepared programs in order to favor the social mixture, multifunctional richness and the connectivity and the compacity of physical structure. The physical characteristics of favelas include variable densities, access problems, incompletion of infrastructural and road networks, and the existence of risk areas, requiring the use of methodologies proven to be effective throughout the years.

The public safety actions in this context should not be a complement, an aggregate to the urbanization programs, but integrating part of the public action in integrated manner, since the initial projects conception. They should be simultaneously designed, since they directly influence in the quality of the resulting public space and in the citizen’s awareness.
Each favela is different from the other in terms of dimensions, process of historical formation, location, connection – disconnection with the formal urban grid, which implies in first Reading the place structure, developing the dialogue with the dwellers (demand "listening"), doing the cross reference from different looks on each discipline and, as a consequence, formulating the Urban Scheme that will compound the backbone of the specific intervention plan. The Intervention Plan should join the urban scale (macro diagnosis) with the local scale (reply to major urgencies) in one timeline, by defining priorities and resources.

From the guidelines established by the Plan, it is possible to seek after interlocution among different scopes of the public power, and in the surrounding of the acting areas, aiming to include meaningful neighbors capable of adding to the project (private companies, universities, commercial centers, intermodal stations, unemployed areas...). Cultural equipment such as professionalizing schools, digital inclusion centers, popular cinemas, public libraries, should be understood as living attractors and focuses for the social evolution.

The urbanization programs of favelas should be strictly articulated with the school systems and technical qualification, so as to allow that physical transformations correspond to the social-economic and cultural possibilities of the population. The life in communities may only be extremely transformed through the implantation of one intervention process and corrections made with continuity, articulated in short, medium and long term.
For the private sector, it is worth investing in technology and introducing quality in quantity. The public sector should have as the major function to make urban, architectonic and environmental quality projects to emerge, by creating the legal support in order to work in the four urban scales, through the new 21st century Agoras, by integrating work, sport, culture and leisure. New spaces in order to meet intelligences (community intelligence and public institutional support), and in order to live with differences.

Spaces designed as new contemporary piazzas of the urban scale, surrounded by manual service rendering places, trades, education and culture, representing potential attractors on the border between formal and informal, linked by the public transportation of quality, including nature fragments capable of rebalancing the green mass – built mass relation.

Urban scale shaded Agoras designed in order to allow markets of producers, expositions, popular university and women’s spaces, by forming innovation and production centers based on the characteristics of each social group, connected by the transportation system that joins the metropolitan scale with the neighborhoods scale and the new designed centers as new powerful attractors, such centers with enough power capable of giving new meaning for places, contest, and reformulation of living conditions.

The participating diagnosis (macro diagnosis, local diagnosis and consolidated diagnosis) allows defining goals and well established programs, by integrating community demands and official programs, capable of being feasible for successive governments. Expanded governance such as policy open to one synergy process between the needs and popular knowledge, aiming to reduce the dichotomy between State and citizen.

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