Living Stories Heliópolis

Observing the insertion of new housing blocks in the tissue of the existing favela.

Three built social housing projects in Heliópolis are examined to understand the processes that are triggered when new social housing blocks are inserted into the tissue of the existing favela.  The project responds to the conviction that the different processes, physical and social, positive and negative can be highlighted to make evident both the ways that people think of their surroundings and also how they adapt to them and adapt them to their own and changing needs.

While some of these processes of transformation refer to physical transformations and are easier to observe – the increase or adaptation of housing for extra space or different uses, the occupation of public space for personal use, the compartmentalization of public space including fences, etc. – others refer to complex and at times hidden social transformations that are either consequences of the spatial changes or have a subsequent spatial effect – for example, processes of segregation between inhabitants of the new blocks and those that stay in the favela, rupture of identity of the person with his/her surroundings, greater individualization between neighbors of the same block, etc.

A series of intertwining stories, a mesh of characters narrate through their own experiences and stories the different processes that are in play. The suggestion was to avoid from the onset an exhaustive or didactic account but rather to start from the subjective and specific experiences to allow the viewer to draw his/her own conclusions.  A subjective approach to urban exploration and the interview, as a direct account of the transformations and the ways in which the inhabitants live their space daily, thus become mechanisms that allows us to enter a community (even as outsiders) and generate a close up understanding of the social interactions generated by these new interventions.




The project Living Stories  (Heliópolis) was realized within São Paulo Calling, an initiative promoted by the Segreteria de Habitação and curated by Stefano Boeri.

Living Stories concept and editing: Francisca Insulza. Video and photographs: Fabio Knoll.  Interviews: Francisca Insulza and Marcelo Rebelo.