Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
The text analyzes a proposal of collective habitation in the historical center of the city of São Paulo, designed for low-income inhabitants living in risk areas. The project, awarded with honorable mention in an important recent national competition, has as its main objective to rethink the social interests of collective habitation in the central regions of the great cities. The proposal looks to be an alternative to the traditional policies which are grounded in modernist principles and have been fulfilled in the city through the construction of “mega” housing settlements implanted in the distant peripheries. This solution caused a series of social and infrastructural problems in the city, which are difficult to resolve. The deformity of the center of this metropolis becomes a homogeneous model. However, if the objective is to intensify diversity, the differences must be articulated. This is not meant to add new dissonances, or to try to harmonize elements of conflicting genesis. The proposal looks to articulate the chaos and the generic, from the possibilities of experiences that a metropolis such as São Paulo allows. In the program, 160 habitations of different sizes form the building properly, and it reproduces the functional varieties and space dynamics in the implantation (and in the diversity of the occupation of the surroundings). Its volumes associate the necessities of the implantation, already assigned, the necessities of the units (insulation, ventilation, circulation, etc), and constructive rationality (concentration of the hydraulical areas, modulation, etc.). The openings, ampler than usual ones in buildings of social habitation, are dimensioned in order to provide luminosity and ventilation beyond the visual and space relations with the external environment. The analysis looks to emphasize the innovative aspects of the implantation and the reorganization of the surrounding public space; they represent a new possibility for the transformation of the deteriorated centers of Brazilian cities. The urban renewal of these degraded areas must be opposed to the current trends that promote the gentrification of the central areas and the deepening of social divisions promoted by neoliberal reforms.
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