Brazilian favelas, lacking basic infrastructure and sanitation, are often unsafe for the people who live there. Isolated from society and ignored by the government, people living in these communities lack the know-how and the resources needed to improve their living situations. As a result, the millions of people living in these slums do not feel empowered to address the most basic housing needs of their communities. Edgard Gouveia, an architect and university professor, realized that the only way to truly improve public spaces in the favelas was through community-led projects. To achieve this, he brought together favela residents and architecture students to design useful and appropriate public spaces. This improves living conditions in the favelas, teaches residents that they can change their surroundings for the better, and influences the field of architecture to value community influence in public projects.
He is working to demonstrate to community members that they are capable of transforming their own living situations. Gouveia has created two programs through the Elos Institute to address these issues: Universidade Aberta: Escola de Guerreiros sem Armas (UAV) and Comum-Unidade (Common-Unity). The UAV program brings 60 architectural students into favela communities for thirty days to work with community members to design and build a community-chosen project; and after those 30 days, the Comum-Unidade program ensures the evolution by working with the community to continue the projects.
Web site: http://institutoelos.org