“…They have become intellectual works-in-progress to universities such as Pennsylvania, Columbia and the LSE. Pennsylvania even built its own campus “pop-up favela” for study purposes. A leading NGO champion, Theresa Williamson of Catalytic Communities, sees the favelas as the “ideal affordable housing stock”. Their buildings are mostly brick-built and sound, maximising every inch of space and fashioned to occupants’ needs. They are low-energy to a fault.
The challenge is somehow to upgrade them to meet even the minimal standards expected for modern urban living, without lurching into old-fashioned, state-sponsored clearance and renewal. It is the challenge of the “smart cities” movement. Rio’s authorities have long acknowledged the policy: Favela Bairro in the 1990s saw them as “civic assets” rather than “aberrations”.”
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