Established in the 60’s with a modernistic masterplan, the neighbourhood of Cidade de Deus failed to accommodate its population’s needs. The apartment buildings were mono-functional units lacking any connection to the urban life, the space between them an empty field. The inhabitants struggled to make this space suitable for they lives, transforming it with informal extensions.

We identified the issue in the sharp separation of private and public, built and void, defined and undefined. We translated the pattern of add-ons to a different scale, to thicken this “boundary line” and turn it into a seamless transition. The new elements act between the urban and domestic realm, reshuffling the apartments from the inside and forming new urban space outside. Clusters of buildings surround new plazas, whose residents constitute community cooperatives to run an autonomous system of urban facilities.

Research-by-design. 2012.

In collaboration with Alkistis Thomidou.

Part of the MAS in Urban Design at ETH Zürich







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