Sao Paulo InBetween

JR, Women are Heroes series
Interfaces of the informal/formal relationship

Sao Paulo InBetween

Entwerfen M2

1. Treffen MI 14.10. 10:00 studio2
1. Block Mo 26.11. - Do 29.11.2015 (ganztägig)
2. Block Do 17.12. - Fr 18.12.
3. Block January 2016 (tba)
4. Block February 2016, 3 weeks in Sao Paulo (tba)

The assignment of the course is to explore the (site specific) conditions of informel settlements and the adjacent neighbourhoods within the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo, with a specific focus on the „inbetween conditions“ – the connections of the informel settlements to the city. We will investigate and identify the interrelations, the links and missing links between either systems adressing the polarisation between informal and formal urbanisation and the growing gap between wealth and poverty. Social and political complexities will be set in relation to the local spatial production.
We will develop a first (collective) set of data using in depth (historical) research in order to understand the general formation and transformation of informel settlements, looking at specific cases within the city of Sao Paulo. This research will be accompanied by the design of a first prototype on the notion of inbetween spaces - thresholds, borders, boundaries. We will complete the research on site (it is intended to work for three weeks in Sao Paulo) using different field research methods in order to engage with the nature of everyday spatial practice. The design prototypes will then be implemented, tested and finally developed.
The projects can act within different scales and can take on a variety of forms, from small scale actions and interventions, to architectural projects, as well as urban operational tools.


According to the United Nations currently 1 billion people live in informel settlements and without any appropriate reactions in the near future the number will be doubled. The rapid spread of informal settlements in major cities and megalopolises is considered as one of the greatest future challenges. They appear wherever regulation mechanisms are absent and express individual and in official ways to find solutions for the shortage of housing. Informal settlements are utterly self-organised and materialized examples of bottom-up processes and thus generally viewed as the opposite to top-down planning. The dichotomy of either approaches has a long history. Throughout the 20th century top-down planning has been questioned at various times. From the work of Team X, to the confrontation of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses, the writings of Henri Lefebvre, as well as the numerous current forms of tactical urbanism. Questions arise whether the existing operational, political and design strategies can cope with the challenges of an intensifying “crisis of planetary urbanisation” (Harvey 2014). Both, informel settlements as well as different forms of tatical urbanism, evolve from an urban development based on neoconservative politics and economies, indicating a lack of the prevailing top-down instruments in meeting people’s needs.

Bridging the gap between bottom-up and top-down urban planning remains a future assignment, or to quote Teddy Cruz, it’s about closing “the gap between the abstraction of large-scale planing logics and the specifity of everyday practice.“