Pesquisa sobre trabalho e migração na construção civil

Pesquisa sobre trabalho e migração na construção civil


Work and architecture in Brazil: from Brasília to communal actions

Ícaro Vilaça

Over 50 years after the inauguration of Brasília, the inherent contradictions in the developmentalist project continue to manifest themselves dramatically, as demonstrated by recent news stories such as the death of three construction workers at the Belo Monte Dam in Pará in 2015, and the discovery of the use of slave labor in the construction of Terminal 3 at Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo in 2013.

The permanence of these violent conditions of production forces us to take a critical look at the fields of architecture and urban planning in search of not-always-evident links between the country’s modernization initiatives and the violence of its construction sites. Through a brief panorama, we shall attempt to illuminate some relevant issues based on criticism, articulated from a transformative praxis rather than theory, of the forms of production of hegemonic spaces in self-managed construction sites run by workers.

The consensus on modern architecture in Brazil

In the late 1950s, while the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (the CIAMs) were already being declared bankrupt, Brazil was experiencing a moment of widespread optimism with promises of architecture and urbanism. Brasília was being built, and the incredulity or resistance from certain sectors of the nation against the construction of the new capital was combated by Juscelino Kubitschek. Through a vigorous promotional campaign that included exhibitions of models, lectures, and conferences on the projects for the city, he created intense coverage of the progress of the construction works initiated in 1956.He also scheduled a number of visits to the construction sites from such illustrious figures as Dwight Eisenhower (then president of the United States), Fidel Castro, André Malraux, and Mies van der Rohe.

Photo: The Esplanade of Ministries under construction. Source: Federal District Public Archive

In this context of enthusiasm regarding the modern movement, an intense debate raged on the international stage throughout the 1960s centered mainly around criticism of the production of mass solutions, the alienation promoted by these construction processes, and the radical separation between project, construction, and use. Yet all of this went practically unnoticed in Brazil. Still, there were at least three exceptions worthy of examination: Cajueiro Seco in Recife (1960-1964), possibly one of the first “participative experiences” in the field of architecture and urban planning to be undertaken in the country; the pioneering urbanization of the favela of Brás de Pina (1964-1971) in Rio de Janeiro, realized by self-proclaimed anthropologist/architect Carlos Nelson Ferreira dos Santos; and the experiments of the group Arquitetura Nova (realized between the late 1960s and the early 1980s), which sought to radically reassess the construction site. 1

Though significant, none of these experiences were able to go very far in the adversarial context of Brazil’s military dictatorship, which was entirely unfavorable to any questioning of the forms of production. The dictatorship even looked down upon the relation of the “authoritarian” role of architects, a popular theme of 1960s anti-modernist criticism. The Cajueiro Seco experiment was shut down soon after the military coup, while the architects in the group Arquitetura Nova were subjected to the worst of the regime, by imprisonment and torture.

Conservative modernization and modernism

A controversial theme filled with nuances, the relationship between modern architecture and urbanism and the military regime is a complex subject, one which still deserves more in-depth study. For the panorama that we’re laying out here, it is enough for us to consider that, in general terms, the Brazilian military regime never opposed the continuation of the modernizing movement. On the contrary, throughout the second half of the 1960s and all throughout the 1970s, the dictatorship made large investments in infrastructure and industry, and modern architects were recruited to actively contribute to the country’s modernization.

However, some professionals that clearly identified as left-wing were persecuted, and their persecutions were concealed to greater and lesser extents depending on the case. Niemeyer, for example, opted to go into exile in France and spared himself from greater reprisal from the regime. It was a much different story for architect João Vilanova Artigas, who was put in several delicate situations due to his known political convictions and militant involvement with the Communist Party. Though dealt many hardships by the regime, Artigas accepted numerous commissions from the State and designed dozens of public facilities and housing complexes while the military government was in power.

Photo: View of the Zezinho Magalhães Prado Complex. Source: Portal Vilanova Artigas.

Among these projects, one is of particular interest to us here: the Zezinho Magalhães Prado Housing Complex in Guarulhos, São Paulo, commissioned in 1967 by Cecap (The State Treasury of Houses for the People), an existing authority in the State of São Paulo. The project, developed in partnership with architects Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Fábio Penteado, was initially conceived of to house approximately 55,000 people. It was meticulously planned by the architects so that its components could be produced in series by a system of prefabrication, which was to serve as a model for the state housing policy. After its implementation, however, the BNH, or National Housing Bank, which funded the project, decided to maintain the conventional system since the developers involved did not express interest in the industrialization proposed by the architects. They wanted to utilizethe large amount of cheap, unqualified manpower already at their disposal.

However, the quality of the architectural design was unquestionable. It included generous dimensions, a free plan, and horizontal windows. The project for the Zezinho Magalhães Prado Housing Complex features the main aspects which, by the late 1950s, were being decried as problematic by some of the detractors of the modern movement: massification, standardization, isolation from the urban fabric, and the absence of participation. Allegations of this nature, which together denounced the crisis of functionalism, had already been discredited by Artigas in a text published a few years earlier, in which he reaffirmed his optimism regarding the role of modern architecture in the country’s development:

It is easy to understand why Brazil, like other “developing” countries (…), might present itself to the world with a new and creative architectural art. The theories of functionalism, though initially applied here in terms of the modernization of culture, were, gradually, running into and becoming confused with the theme of development in general, of decolonization. Even when considering the delay in industrial development in countries like ours, architecture, like art, was based, in terms of functionalism, on the possibility of developing modern forms from any level of constructional technique (ARTIGAS, 2003, p. 250-251).

While Artigas and his staff were focused on the project for the Zezinho Magalhães Prado Complex, Sérgio Ferro leveled a harsh criticism against the “conciliatory” practices of the modern architects of the day:

If (…) we examine the architectural projects created by the new generation in Brazil and, in particular, by those with rational orientation in São Paulo, we notice some typical characteristics. In short, they are proposals for a supposedly probable development that progressively transform, through an inversion of function, into compensations for the growing frustration of these proposals, which is achieved by the fictitious isolation of the work that pretends to realize, in its microcosm, the expected development. The aggressive, provocative attitude in relation to the present reality that produced those proposals is quietly exchanged for the gesture of a substitutive, conciliatory representation (FERRO, 2006, p. 48).

The differences between Ferro and Artigas deepened from that point on, both in the academic field and in their political activism. Imprisoned and tortured in 1970, Ferro went into exile the following year. In France, he wrote the classic essay “O canteiro e o desenho” [“The worksite and design”], published in Brazil in 1976 in the magazine Almanaque and subsequently included in a book in 1979. The text had an immediate impact on the academic and professional worlds and contributed significantly to the critical debate concerning modern architecture and urban planning verified in the 1980s.

The delayed criticism of modernism

Only after the harshest years of the Military Dictatorship had passed was the Brasília experiment (which until the early 1980s had remained practically unquestioned, especially in the aspects related to the workforce hired to build it) subjected to an intensive evaluation by researchers from various academic fields. The foundations of this debate include the publication of the book Construtores de Brasília [“The Builders of Brasília”] by sociologist Nair Bicalho de Souza (1983), the release of the documentary Conterrâneos velhos de guerra [“Old Fellow Citizens of War”] by Vladimir Carvalho (1990), and the publication of The Modernist City: An Anthropological Critique of Brasília by American anthropologist James Holston (1993).

It is in this context that, in 1987, Jürgen Habermas‘s article “Modern and Postmodern Architecture” was published in an issue of the magazine Novos Estudos Cebrap, dedicated to the author. In this paper, originally published in 1981, Habermas presents a series of arguments defending the modern movement and its continuation:

When Le Corbusier finally managed to realize his design for a ‘unité d’habitation’, when he could give concrete form to his idea of a ‘cité jardin verticale’, it was the communal facilities that remained unused or were eradicated. The utopia of preconceived forms of life which had already inspired the designs of Owen and Fourier could not be filled with life. Not only because of a hopeless underestimation of the diversity, complexity and variability of modern aspects of life, but also because modernized societies with their functional interdependencies go beyond the dimensions of living conditions, which could be gauged by the planner with his imagination. The crisis which has become apparent today within modern architecture cannot be traced back to a crisis in architecture itself, but to the fact that it had readily allowed itself to be overburdened. (HABERMAS, 1997, p. 220).

The untimely defense of the modern movement offered by Habermas ended up coinciding perfectly with the (equally untimely) criticism presented in previous years regarding the limits of modern architecture and urban planning in the country. The text by the German philosopher provoked a noteworthy reaction from Otília Fiori Arantes and Paulo Eduardo Arantes, then professors at the University of São Paulo College of Philosophy, Literature and Humanities. In the essay Um ponto cego no projeto moderno de Jürgen Habermas: arquitetura e dimensão estética depois das vanguardas [“A blind spot in the modern project of Jürgen Habermas: Architecture and the aesthetic dimension after the avant-garde”] (1992), the authors critically confronted Habermas’s theory of modernity with state of the art contemporary architecture, discussing the reasons for the German philosopher’s “apology” for modern architecture.

In the essay’s final discussion, Otília and Paulo Arantes establish an extremely important argument concerning the Brasília experiment. In opposition to the discourse that minimized the disconnects between the rationality intended by modern architects and urban planners and Brazil‘s social, productive base—presenting this circumstance as a kind of Brazilian singularity—the authors bravely affirm that these incongruences were not local blunders without greater meanings. On the contrary, they maintain that only the conditions provided by the fringes of capitalism could allow the modern project to be unfurled to its full fruition:

Before Brasília there was Chandigarh, and long before that, Le Corbusier looked idly on at the historical opportunity of Arquitetura Nova. When Le Corbusier visited Brazil he already no longer trusted the destiny of his utopia to the entrepreneurial audacity of the bourgeoisie, demoralized by the crash of 1929, but instead to the entrepreneurial power of the organized ruling layers in the form of strong, modernizing States. This was our case after 1930. Reorganizing it from the center, capitalism forced the Modern Project to rediscover its truth in the old colonial fringe of the system. […] it turned out the way it did. An unfair burden? […] To be on the safe side, in a country where modernization and its counterparts are a national obsession, both on the left and the right, the canonization of the Modern Movement, though with a broken back, ended up paralyzing architectural imagination, which after all is not simply a question of more or less lively inventiveness. By transforming an exhausted Modern Architecture, especially after the avant-garde—whose season in Brazil also ended some time ago—, in the highest praise of Progress and Reason (old or new modernity?), Habermas came, without a doubt, to put the enormous audience of German New Critical Theory at the service of this inaction (ARANTES; ARANTES, 1992, p. 89-90).

It was amid this debate that the country experienced, for the first time, an absolutely singular kind of production in the field of architecture, both in relation to the process of conception and in relation to building processes: self-managed communal action.

Architecture as political practice

In the first half of the 1980s, the military regime was weakened by the persistence of an economic crisis which combined recession with high inflation rates. Early milestones of this time included the enactment of the Amnesty Law (1979) and the return to a multi-party system (1980), measures that favored the emergence of new political actors that had been underway since the late 1970s: in the field of labor, the new syndicalism, and in the realm of citizenship, the new urban social movements, which fought for housing, sanitation and transportation, counting on the crucial support from the Catholic Church’s Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

It is in this context that we find the pioneering experience of Mutirão Vila Nova Cachoeirinha in São Paulo’s North Zone. His activist career began in 1982 with the showing of a super-8 film by engineer Guilherme Coelho which was comprised of footage of housing projects built in Uruguay through mutual help and self-management by housing cooperatives active since 1964. These images were captured the previous year during Guilherme Coelho’s travels to experience Uruguay’s housing cooperatives up close, after having been introduced to them at a symposium about the rationalization of the construction of social housing initiatives at the Institute of Technological Research (IPT). Once back in Brazil, he went on to organize a number of screenings of the movie in São Paulo‘s outer city limits to spread the word on the experiment in Uruguay. 2

While Guilherme Coelho’s efforts were indeed pioneering and decisive, they fit into a general framework characterized by the action of professionals from a variety of fields, performing experiments together with the popular movements emerging in the country—mainly housing movements. One of the privileged spaces for experimenting with this sort of action were the housing laboratories that started appearing in the 1980s in a variety of higher education courses in architecture and urbanism.

Though these laboratories were not direct developments of the three pioneering alternative experiments previously mentioned, Cajueiro Seco, Brás de Pina and Arquitetura Nova, these references pervaded the efforts of those architects and were assimilated in a manner that was somewhat fragmented or downright “kaleidoscopic,” as architect João Marcos de Almeida Lopes (2011, p. 59) defined it. They also incorporated other references from abroad, like the experiment of housing cooperatives in Uruguay and the writings of John Turner (1976/2009) and Hassan Fathy (1973/1982).

One of the first laboratories to be created in São Paulo was the Housing Laboratory at Febasp (the São Paulo School of Fine Arts), known as LabHab. From 1982 to 1986, LabHab was comprised of professors and students from the institution and provided assistance in the construction of a variety of facilities (churches, summer camps for a labor union, etc.).In addition, in the field of housing, they worked to build a set of houses in Grajaú (in São Paulo‘s South Zone), contributing to the urbanization of the favelas in Jardim Oratório (in municipal Mauá) and Recanto da Alegria (also in Grajaú).

In parallel to the LabHab experience, it is worth noting the growing articulation of housing movements that had begun organizing meetings to discuss their own efforts, and those of the technicians that supported them. In August of 1984, the 1st Meeting of Movements for Housing by Cooperativism, Mutual-help, and Self-management was held in São Paulo, featuring representatives from various housing groups (mainly from the South Zone), as well as representatives from the Uruguay Federation of Cooperatives for Mutual-help Housing (Fucvam), architects from the Uruguay Cooperativist Center, and members of LabHab.

From the end of 1985 to early 1986, the School of Fine Arts dismantled LabHab in an authoritarian manner in the midst of an enormous crisis in the architecture and urban planning course. In 1986, during mass layoffs of teachers after a strike that demanded higher salaries and better teaching conditions, the professionals that had comprised LabHab were obligated to look for work alternatives at other institutions, leading to the creation of similar initiatives, like the housing laboratories at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Santos, at Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas (known as L’Habitat) and at Campinas State University (Unicamp).

Also created in 1985 from an initiative by architect Joan Villá, the Unicamp Housing Laboratory, though having extended the work of some projects initiated by the LabHab at the School of Fine Arts, was structured with a sharper focus, centered on the perspective of developing a system of pre-fabricated components—coherent with the Brazilian context—to be utilized in the production of housing units according to a regime of mutual help and self-management.

Photo: Manufacturing of the slab panel or the wall developed by the Unicamp Housing Laboratory. Source: Joan Villá Collection.

This system was based on panels of ceramic blocks and reinforced concrete that worked as components for walls, slabs, and staircases. There was also a panel of ceramic tiles and reinforced concrete to be utilized in roofs. Each component of this system was designed to be produced at simple construction sites by unskilled workers. Although the system appeared promising, its adoption in the context of self-managed communal actions turned problematic due to the difficulty in transporting the panels, which weighed around 100 kg, and had to be transported by the participants themselves generally on rugged terrains and without adequate equipment (like trucks with small cranes).

In parallel to the experiments of the Unicamp Housing Laboratory, the architects who wanted to contribute to the popular movements made efforts in other fronts. In 1986, Nabil Bonduki, who had coordinated the LabHab at the School of Fine Arts along with architect Joan Villá, was elected president of SASP, the Architect´s Union of São Paulo. From there he went on to head various activities aimed at fostering assistance to housing movements as a field of action for architects. In this atmosphere, the union’s members founded, also in 1987, GAHMA, the Group for Assisting Housing Movements, the first of many technical assistance organizations created in subsequent years.

In 1987, the UMM or the Union of Housing Movements was founded, uniting a number of groups, mainly from São Paulo’s East Zone, who operated around leaderships connected to the Catholic Church’s Basic Ecclesial Communities. The strengthening of popular movements in São Paulo’s outlying communities lead to the election of Luiza Erundina (of the Workers’ Party) as mayor.

In the first year under the new administration, a program was created from a pre-existing fund managed by the Superintendent of Popular Housing (Habi) specifically to finance the construction of self-managed housing: Funaps Comunitário. They managed to consolidate a structure based on the autonomous relationship between the movement, public powers, and technical assistance, something which had been going on since the first experiments in self-management. Funaps Comunitário created conditions for the legal constitution of various entities of technical assistance, who went on to work for the city of São Paulo and other municipalities in the greater metropolitan area.

One of the consultancies that started to function at this time was Usina, the Center of Labor for the Inhabited Environment (Usina CTAH), whose founders worked at the Unicamp Housing Laboratory until 1989. From that point on, they evaluated the possibility of building their own structure independent of the university that would guarantee them greater autonomy and, at the same time, allow them to continue addressing the problem of housing together with other popular movements.

In March of 1990, the architects from Usina CTAH were invited by the Community Association of Diadema to reformulate the architectural design, initially developed by technicians from city hall, of Cazuza, a complex of 184 adjacent houses and six four-story buildings. For the project to be executed through a communal action, the constructive system was completely reassessed, substituting the previously planned concrete blocks with supporting ceramic blocks (in the adjacent houses) and self-supporting blocks (in the buildings). These blocks, though considerably lighter than the concrete ones, also possessed elevated resistance, dispensing with the need for vertical structures and enabling the possibility of mutual-help construction since the majority of people participating in the projects had no familiarity with construction work.

Photo: Mutirão Cazuza under construction. Source: Usina CTAH Collection.

The Cazuza experiment was a pioneer in Brazil, proving that communal actions could construct buildings with multiple floors and not just one-story houses, as was imagined up until then. While Cazuza was being constructed, the architects from Usina started developing the project for the Pro-Housing Cooperative of Osasco (Copromo), with 1000 housing units. Unlike previous projects, which were merely reformulated in order to make them suitable for mutual-help construction, the project for Copromo was the first set of buildings to be completely designed by architects from Usina CTAH. This enabled the adoption of an innovative solution in the context of communal actions: the staircase on an independent metallic structure, assembled shortly after the execution of the foundations.

There are several reasons for this project option. The most important is the safety it provides for the communal participants, enabling them to circulate and transport material without taking risks on makeshift scaffolds. At the same time, the staircases serve as props for the stonework erected around it and as support to elevate the material to the upper levels. Furthermore, with the staircase installed before the execution of the stonework, they were able to avoid delays which had been frequent during Cazuza’s construction, for instance, caused by the slow execution of concrete stairs.

The choice to utilize towers with metallic staircases directly installed in the foundations expresses the Usina technicians’ commitment to establishing a design in close dialogue with its production process. On a Copromo presentation board produced by the consultancy in 1992, the architects clearly stated these intentions: 3“to sponsor the appropriation, on the part of these groups of future users, of all the production stages of that space, seeking, through intense processes of discussion, to extract reason from all its constituent elements.” The immediate consequence of this intention to enable the appropriation of the production process by the workers was the deliberate search for rationality, both in design and at the construction site.

Source: One of the Copromo blocks under construction. Source: Usina CTAH Collection.

Another significant example of the singular relationship between design and the construction site of self-managed communal actions was the change of the constructive system adopted for the slabs of Copromo. Initially planned to be executed according to a conventional system, now it would be based on ceramic pieces supported on joists of reinforced concrete, with subsequent concrete paving. The slow speed and difficulty in the communal execution of this kind of slab caused the consultants to look for alternatives. The architects eventually settled on a small manufacturer of reinforced concrete slab panels which agreed to produce panels tailor-made for Copromo, facilitated by the rigorous modulation of the project. Though the adoption of the prefabricated slabs represented an additional cost, this system was considered the most appropriate, sparing the workers the exhausting routine demanded by the conventional system. Later, these prefabricated slab panels began to be produced on the actual construction site, which generated considerable savings.

Naturally, this singular relationship between design and worksite in the self-managed communal efforts cannot be understood without considering the political dimension of these processes, those that enable the experimentation of another technique, itself political. For Sérgio Ferro, the interaction between architects and the homeless ushered in another practice of architecture:

What the interaction between Usina and the communal participants introduces, along with other similar experiments, is another architectural practice that presupposes (anticipates the position of) other relationships of production, entirely contrary to those in practice today. […] All manners of evaluating results are unanimous: they surpassed by far those that savage liberalism allows today in the productive capital in the production of popular homes. From the perspective of urban planning, architecture, construction, aesthetics, social benefit, economy, education, democracy, humanity, etc. etc. etc., there is no possible comparison. The pathological hostility that these experiments provoke in the instances of power and money can only be explained by the underlying fear that their example takes on. […] At the self-managed construction site, the work abandons the more foul association with what should be its opposite, the tripalium, the torture instrument from which capital derived its name and with which it drove away the ancient ars, art, potentially contagious since it was reserved for free labor. In the self-managed construction site and other similar experiences, it returns to being, with the language, one of the two central pillars of our humanity. It deserves its old name back: art—man’s expression of his joy in labor, as perfectly worded by William Morris (CONSTANTE; VILAÇA, 2016, p. 27-29).

This other architecture is characterized by a singular dynamic between architects and builders/users, which, though on the one hand doesn‘t indicate the possibility of effectively overcoming the enormous asymmetries that exist between these agents, at least enables the experience of alternative relationships characterized by permanent tension between respective knowledges/powers that connect design and construction site, as opposed to production geared toward the market.

Another fundamental aspect of self-managed communal actions is the prominent role of women. In the fight for land and funding for the construction of the housing units, as well as in the self-management of the worksites and in the actual construction, women played a significant role tracing back to the emergence of the housing movements in the late 1970s, with the decisive support of the Basic Ecclesial Communities. Since then, the potentialities related to the empowerment of women or, put more directly, to the confrontation of the sexism that pervades social relationships, these experiments have systematically demonstrated countless examples of women who overcame domestic oppression (in some case, domestic violence) and ended up assuming leadership roles in their communal groups and even the popular movements in the struggle for housing.

Though there was a tacit recognition of the exhaustion of the project for the universalization of housing provision via communal actions over 20 years after the Erundina administration, there was no shortage of architects and intellectuals coming out to defend the continuation of these experiments, whether in favor of the politicization of the workers (OLIVEIRA, 2006, p. 234) and the architects themselves (ALMEIDA, 2006, p. 226-227), or the technical innovations introduced on the self-managed construction sites, despite the years following of conservative mayors who buried the municipal housing policy based on stimulating and supporting self-managed production.

Now, despite enormous barriers, the Landless Workers Movement East 1 is about to inaugurate one of the most important ongoing self-managerial projects in the country: Mutirões Florestan Fernandes e José Maria Amaral (Cidade Tiradentes, São Paulo/SP) which, together, total almost 400 housing units.4Developed in a participatory manner by the technical consultant firm Ambiente Arquitetura together with future residents and construction site employees, the project is self-managed with the support of ex-participants of the Landless Workers Movement East 1.The quality of this project proves the extent to which the organization of workers in the field of housing production can be successful.

Photo: Construction site of Mutirões Florestan Fernandes e José Maria Amaral. Source: Ambiente Arquitetura Collection.


ARANTES, P. F. “Reinventando o canteiro de obras” In: ANDREOLI, E.; FORTY, A. (editors). Arquitetura moderna brasileira. Hong Kong: Phaidon, 2004.

ARANTES, P. E.; ARANTES, O. B. F. Um ponto cego no projeto moderno de

Jürgen Habermas: arquitetura e dimensão estética depois das vanguardas. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1992.

CONSTANTE, P.; VILAÇA, I. (editors). Usina: entre o projeto e o canteiro. São Paulo: Edições Aurora, 2016.

FATHY, H. (1973). Construindo com o povo: arquitetura para os pobres. Rio de Janeiro: Forense Universitária, 1982.

FERRO, S. O canteiro e o desenho. São Paulo: Projeto, 1979.

______. Arquitetura e trabalho livre. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2006.

HABERMAS, Jurgen. “Modern and postmodern architecture.” In: Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. Edited by Neil Leach. New York: Routledge, 1997.

HOLSTON, J. A cidade modernista: uma crítica a Brasília e sua utopia. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1993.

LOPES, J. M. A. “O anão caolho” In: Novos Estudos. São Paulo, n. 76, p. 219-227, nov. 2006.

______. Sobre arquitetos e sem-tetos: técnica e arquitetura como prática política. Tese de livre-docência. Instituto de Arquitetura e Urbanismo de São Carlos—Universidade de São Paulo. São Carlos, 2011.

OLIVEIRA, Francisco de. “O vício da virtude” In: Novos Estudos, n. 76. São Paulo: Cebrap, nov. 2006, p. 229-234.

SOUZA, N. B. Construtores de Brasília. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1983.

TURNER, J. (1976). Housing by people: towards autonomy in building environments. London: Marion Boyars Publishers, 2009.

VILANOVA ARTIGAS, J. “Uma falsa crise” In: XAVIER, A. Depoimentos de uma geração. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2003.

Notas de Rodapé

  1.  While at Cajueiro Seco and Brás de Pina the focus was on experimentation and a dialogue regarding the conception of the housing project and the urbanization plan—and the production was made viable out of a rationalization of vernacular solutions like rammed earth or through actual self-construction overseen by architects—, at the Arquitetura Nova group‘s houses, an interest was placed on the dialogue with the builders around a technique which, as emphasized by Pedro Fiori Arantes, sought to distance itself “from the both modern industrial paradigm and its canons as well as proposals based on the ‘popular’ and the ‘vernacular,’ which, according to them, were regressive and populist answers to the stalemate of underdevelopment” (ARANTES, 2004, p. 181).
  2. The first experiments in cooperative-produced housing emerged in Uruguay in 1966. In 1968, these experiments began to be regulated by the Lei Nacional de Vivienda, which established the requirement of technical monitoring by way of a non-profit multidisciplinary consultant (with architects and social technicians). In addition to being based on self-management and mutual help, many experiments adopted the concept of collective property, in which each family had the right to use one housing unit in the cooperative.
  3. Material available for consultation in the Usina CTAH collection.
  4.  The set formed by the two communal actions is one of the few self-managed experiments funded by the Minha Casa, Minha Vida (literally “My House, My Life”) Program. Introduced in 2009, during President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva‘s second term, MCMV buried the proposals of the National Housing Plan (Planhab)—built under his own administration with broad-based participation from popular movements—in favor of the interests of Brazilian developers. The movements were left with the category known as Entidades, which represents 1-2% of the total resources invested in the program.

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