I went on a site visit with my studio class today. This is the class where we'll be working in a more economically challenged neighborhood to try to raise the standard of living (that's my group above). Here is what we saw:
The neighborhood is located near the top of a hill, so many places have great views of the city.
Evidence of children and parents trying to protect their families.
Beauty is in the details.
Horses, motorcycles, cars, and pedestrians all share the streets.
Most (all?) of the homes are built by hand by their owners.
Children will be children.
This type of brick is a common building material.
This gentleman wished to remain anonymous, though he talked to us about his home.
Our class group drew a lot of attention. Some of the residents showed an open interest in our work.
Drinking the traditional tea, chimarrão.
Our presence distracted him as he played in his yard.
Delivering produce on a lazy day.
Putting the finishing touches on his home's concrete floor.
My professor giving us instructions.
Overall, the neighborhood is a little better off than I expected. It has water, drainage, paved roads with curbs, and electricity, not to mention a soccer field to play on. My classmates tell me that the neighborhood began as a favela, but then the residents petitioned the city government to give them infrastructure. The problem now is that the residents have the infrastructure, but can't afford it. So the costs of using it are passed on to Porto Alegre's tax payers, who resent that they're paying for someone else's electrical bill. I'm still not sure what our architectural project is yet, but I imagine it will involve trying to find low-cost ways to supply the neighborhood's necessities while easing the burden on the tax base. We'll see.