The research presented here was conducted by Jan Kudlicka, who spent the last year studying slum dwellings, known as “favelas,” in Brazil. The breadth of the research delves into the living conditions that these urban and suburban developments create and the feasible ways in which their problems can be addressed through the regeneration of the spaces. Jan Kudlicka studied the “little farm” of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of the largest slums in the city. To find out more about the research click through after the break.
Rocinha began to develop after the 1930′s when people began to migrate from the rural areas of Brazil to areas just outside Rio de Janeiro with the prospect of benefiting from the development of the urban center. The favelas developed on the hillside with any means available creating hazardous living conditions with crowding and inadequate ventilation, natural light and sewage treatment. These types of conditions are true all over the world where the populations of urban environments have outnumbered rural areas since 2008. With such a high proportion of the world living in urban centers, many people are faced with the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions associated with living on the outskirts of a big city.
The strategies that Jan Kudlicka developed prioritize the need to preserve the space already built up and protect it from the vehicular traffic. The desire is to regenerate the existing conditions rather than demolishing homes to begin anew. The environmental conditions of Rocinha made this especially difficult because the site is built up to its limit, crowded on all sides by mountains from one end and the urban center of Rio de Janeiro on the other. The natural development of the favela has produced overpopulated and dangerous conditions that do not account for emergencies or the general safety of the inhabitants. The organization of the dwellings create dead ends and very few passages in case of fire or medical emergencies.
The process of regeneration begins with selecting particular dwellings for intervention to push the residences up one floor and develop the street level as a space for commerce and services. This strategy creates spaces that contribute to the social and economic development of the community while protecting the living spaces from conditions on the street level. In the first stage of the evolution of these dwellings the original concrete construction would stripped of its brick facade and reinforced with steel u-profiles, with a strengthened foundation to support the new structure. Next the facades would be regenerated using traditional Brazilian glazed tiles and perforated brick. The tiles provide a ornamental and cultural identity to the neighborhood while the perforated brick ventilates the interior spaces by allowing fresh air to enter.
The second part of the process divides the neighborhood into vertical zones, stratifying where certain functions of the neighborhood take place. The ground level of the selected dwellings become commercial and service spaces. These include medical centers, education centers, food markets, animal breeding areas, pharmacies, and pottery shops. The rest of the building is devoted to living quarters and their roofs become public assembly and recreational spaces. These spaces range from playgrounds to an open air cinema and theater to vegetable and fruit gardens, the products of which could later be sold on the street level. The space of the roof becomes an extension of the ground, allowing people to move from roof to roof away from the noise, pollution and density of the street level.
On the scale of Rocinha as a whole, the street is the civic life. It is dominated by pedestrian traffic and social interactions. This scheme hopes to protect this aspect of the favela by restricting cars from entering the areas. This preserves the pockets of plazas that develop within the dwellings, as well as the natural terrain which has given Rocinha its organization.