Paraisópolis is located in the middle of Morumbi, on of the wealthier neighborhoods in Sao Paulo. As such, the contrasts and juxtapositions in the area are quite incredible.

This photograph clearly shows the multiple divisions present in Paraisopolis- withing and outside the favela

Paraisópolis is the second largest favela in SP, holding a population of 80 000 (which was the number given by the last census some 4 years ago- meaning that the current population might be closer to 100 000). This favela in particular represents an interesting condition-“ a city within a city”- as it is located within the expanded center- in the middle of the “formal urban fabric” (something uncommon for SP, most of its favelas located in its peripheries). Paraisopólis has a hospital (Albert Einstein), schools, a CEU (constructed in 2008), 3 formal bus lines in the major streets, etc. In addition, the favela was built on private land, with existing street delineations, and lot subdivisions (normally, informal settlements tend to grow in public and not private land since it is easier for settlers to secure their homes and not get kicked out of the land). As a result, the settlement grew within delineated blocks, respecting the major streets/access ways already present. In this sense, Paraisopolis represents an easier upgrading situation (with regards to basic infrastructure) than the usual Brazilian favela, even though the topography is still quite abrupt, holding large hills and very low areas with high risks of landslides and floods.

Panoramic view from roof top of house in Paraisopolis

Recently, it seems as though the local government has taken Paraisopolis as a marketing strategy for international eyes. Through invitation, the prefeitura invited Caracas Urban Think Tank, Elemental (Chile), Paulista firm MMB + GSD (Harvard), as well as AA professor Franklyn Lee and Christian Kerez to design and build projects in this central favela. The projects range from social housing, to schools, and parks. In addition, the case of Paraisopolis was presented in the Rotterdam Biennale and will, apparently be one of the sites for the next Biennale, dealing with “Experimental Sites”.

Projected Plan for Paraisópolis

Elemental's Proposal for Social Housing in Paraisópolis

SuBdiv proposal for Paraisópolis

Director of SEHAB (Secretariat de Habitacao de SP), Elizabete França secured 400 Million Reales from municipal ressources for Paraisopolis. Moreover, it appears that the first game of the Soccer World Cup will be played in the stadium adjacent to the settlement, an important reason why the local government is striving to make a viaduct that will directly connect Morumbi to the stadium, and conveniently locate various projects along the new avenue, which will automatically give a new façade to Paraisopolis.

View to community center and park

Something that has stricken me is an almost literal reading of Caldeira’s “City of Walls”. Even within the informal settlements and social housing projects, wall and fences seem to be part of the strategy- automatically dividing the community in itself…

For more info on the project/debate see the following post: Comment + Reply


  1. Estou bem impressionado com o trabalho que você está fazendo. É muito importante e significativo.

    Estou na etapa inicial de meu próprio tese de mestrado no programa de Arquitetura da Universidade de Idaho.

    Seus estúdios parecem ter muito em comum com os meus. Só, enquanto que pareça que você está enfatizando mais o lado da intervenção de arquitetura formal dentro da informal, eu estou querendo aprender mais sobre os aspectos humanos da evolução e construção (morfologia urbana) das favelas por si mesmas. Tal vez o meu seja um pouco mais como uma “Arquitetura sem Arquitetos” tipo de coisa, querendo aprender algo do processo de vida das favelas, para depois tentar de por em pratica as lições aprendidas, ou então—pois não estou querendo idealizar uma coisa feia, só de ver o bonito na coisa feia, si em verdade houver—de fazer os dois, a intervenção favorável na favela e a coleção de lições valiosas das favelas para o mundo “desenvolvido.” Estou querendo me aproximar aos estúdios com o ponto de vista dos princípios de antropofagia da arte brasileira ou da “intersujeitividade” de Martín Heidegger.

    Anyway, I’d Love to talk.
    Please email me.

    • Oi so Robin de Berlim y estamos preparando um projeto internacional que relaciona com sua pesquisa. Si voce pode pongase em contato commigo:

  2. Masters is a part of the formation of a professional who assumes a search on a particular issue. In the case of the blog we are talking about a master’s degree on “Favela Chic”…
    A master’s degree student in architecture and urbanism sometimes choose to go the way of criticism, pure and simple. All that is proposed and implemented is the object of criticism. They are common in Brazil universities.
    Other option is seeking for practical solutions that aim to solve the problems found in our cities. It is difficult to try someone interested in practical issues, especially in poor areas.
    Either options require knowledge of the subject, further research and verification of information. Without it, we will not have a master but a text of opinion, born of ideological positions, without theoretical or practical references.
    Knowing the object of research does not mean sympathize with the ideas of a teacher from a local university. It means reading all the literature on the subject produced from the time that this object was to be studied. In Brazil, slums studies involve reading classics such as Carlos Nelson dos Santos, Licia Valladares, Lilian Vaz and, of course, Sergio Magalhaes.
    When you write in your blog about Paraisopolis experience that “Recently, the local government has taken Paraisopolis as a marketing strategy for international eyes”… …”In addition, the case of Paraisopolis was presented in the Rotterdam Biennale and will, apparently be one of the sites for the next Biennale, dealing with “Experimental Sites”, you are writing your opinion that not correspond to the reality. Because if you are a research it is necessary to prove why you take this conclusion about the participation of Paraisopolis projects in the Rotterdan Biennale and the intervention is “the marketing strategy for international eyes”.
    Search the Brazilian reality is a good theme of masters, but write without reality testing may result in a text that seeks the sympathy of the easy means of dissemination rather than the appropriate academic contribution to the theme of urban slum.

    • Dear Miss França,
      I want to thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read the blog. This blog is in fact a public forum and I welcome any comments and suggestions, for the intention is to raise issues and begin a discussion…
      As I believe that your comments deserve a more thorough answer, I will answer with another post.
      For now, I want to thank you once again and will let you know when I post a reply to your concerns and the various points you raise.
      Best regards,

    • Dear Miss França,
      I simply wanted to inform you that I have replied to your previous comment as a post on the blog…
      Thank you once again for your time and once again, I welcome your insight.
      Best regards,

  3. Adriana
    I’m impressed with all your work!!
    it is very good. Congratulations!! it’s nice to see when people from out side of Brazil it “studing” our problems!!
    keep going with your work, you gonna be great!!!


  4. Dear Adriana,

    I am a masters student at the University of Pittsburgh studying security and policy analysis. Currently, I’m writing a policy analysis comparison regarding urban crime reduction policies in Medellin, Sao Paulo, and San Salvador. Obviously this blog is a great resource to my paper, and I do commend your excellent work.

    In my research, however, I have been unable to find any data, or more detailed information on the Sao Paulo “Peace Squares (Pracas de Paz)” program. Would you happen to have this information, or know a source that could be of better help than what I have been able to find?

    Thank you/Gracias/Obrigado,

    Paul Mincarelli
    BA – International Relations – Duquesne University
    MA – International Affairs – University of Pittsburgh

    • Dear Paul,

      My name is Elisabete França and I am a Social Housing Secretary in Sao Paulo City. We have an agreement with the NGO that calls Praças da Paz.
      I could you in contact with them and they will inform you about teir work in SP City.
      My email addres is betefranca@prefeitura.sp.gov.br

      Please send me a message and I will reply to Pracas da Paz

  5. Hello,

    Im a french architect student in Sao Paulo
    I would like to say “congratulations” for your website, i found a lot of informations there.
    im working on “Favelas social project”
    What the architect can propose to improve life in favelas respecting the manner of life of the habitants?How?
    So if you have some informations about project in favelas not only in Paraisopolis let me know.

    Marie camille

    • Hi Marie Camille,
      Most of the website touches on specific projects in favelas. I would explore the various sites shown on the blog (right hand column): Guayaquil, Rio de Janeiro, Soap Paulo Medellin, Caracas, etc. Best of luck,

  6. Pingback: Comment + Reply «

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