Jorge Mario Jáuregui on Favela's Urbanization, interviewed by Elisabeth Blum and Peter Neitzke
***Copyright Rio de Janeiro, September 7 2002



Scheme of reading of the structure of the place: Complexo do Alemão

Jorge, last year the Harvard Graduate School of Design has awarded the Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design to you. A committee that for years has confered the prize on architects for this or that brilliant architectural single object now has awarded the famous prize for a project that has a tremendous social and political significance. Could you portray the main ideas of your work and the background of your experiences as an architect struggling for the realization of Favela-Bairro-Projects in Rio de Janeiro?

My first question always is this: What is the approach or the approximation, what implies the strategy of reading of the structure of a given place? From this approach you are opening the horizon from which you can get into every new project.
It is this approach that "limits" a project, depending of the form in which you are looking at a place, from which you interrogate a place.
To a certain extent, the form in which you interrogate a place defines all your possibilities. Places need to be well and precisely interrogated. You have to ask the right questions. The principal question in every favela is how to connect my sketches of studies to the waste favela-land.
What is the main question of urbanizing a favela?
Urbanizing a favela means introducing the attributes of the formal city in a non-structured areas. Which are these attributes?
The infrastructure, the ways that connect a favela with the surroundings and the main buildings and spaces that permit a conviviality life (cultural center, kindergardens, centres for generation of work and income, olympic viallage, plazas, the treatment of residual spaces, etc).
The people living in the community have the right to enjoy the benefits of the connections due to the infrastructure, which permits each place to work, to have access to communication with the rest of the city but simultaneously with this, to introduce plazas, spaces for profissionalizing courses, ecumenical spaces, etc. And all enjoy the services that support individual life.
Individual life means the endless addition of extra residences while public life is related to common interests - public spaces and services.
Infrastructure includes the possibility to improve culturally: there are spaces for physical activities and others for cultural activities. The seat of the Community Association is the most important place in the favela that I register in my reading of the structure of the place. This Community Center always constitutes a strong centrality and the question of central spots is one of the most important entity that can regulate the intensities capable of articulating the relationships between physical and social interdependences.

The favela and its neighbourhood

The plazas are conceived as an integration of favela and neighbourhood. Some places in the favela work like "integrators", like "connectors" with the neigbourhood areas. The urban equipment is not only made for the favela but for the neighbourhoods and for the city as well.

Do you know whether people of the neighbourhoods really use Favela-Bairro attractions? Could you give us an idea by comparing situations before and after an intervention?

Let me give you an example: Fubá-Campinho is one of them. There is a football field, a track, buildings for physical education activities, not only for children but for people of all ages; they are also used not only by favela dwellers but, by people from the surrounding neiborhoods, principally on the weekends.
This building is the seat of the Community Association. This is the Center of Professional Training, this is a bakery, and this is an Urbanistic-Social-Orientation-Station, primarily a place to resolve problems, to discuss private and public conflicts and all types of problems that emerge in community daily life, after our job is finished.
This is the Center of Urbanistic Intervention, with the "samba school" that has always been there. It is absolutely impossible to touch this important parts of cultural community equipments.
You can modify everything in the favela unless you don't touch those important elements of identification - the headquarter of the "Escola de Samba" and the soccer field.
In this place [sketch showing the different points of interest] we constructed the street, the new access to the seat of the waste disposal. Here is a kindergarden.
All these elements of intervention generate a new focus, a new centrality of the favela that did not exist before, that fonction like a kind of articulator between the favela and the neighbourhood. The only focus that existed before was the samba-school with many problems of access.
In this place [sketch] do not only play favela people but the residents of the neighbourhood too. It is a meeting point, especially for the young people of the favela and the neighbourhoods, a place of social contacts.

Localization of Rio

What about the parents of the neighbourhood's children? Aren't they afraid of letting their children play with those of the favela?

Yes and no. They are somewhat afraid, but the football and the beach are two spheres socially accepted by both. You don't have to enter directly into the favela. Both are in the periphery of the favela ... With the urbanistic intervention there is a new sense of participation, of pertaining to the community and to the society.

What are you doing to convince the favela people of your ideas?

Your question is very important. The favelados live in an absolutely precarious situation. Any proposal for an improvement of their living conditions, to give them a small place is better than the present situation, and is welcome. But the most important question is to go further than to introduce an infrastructure, ways and services. All this is necessary, but the most important thing is to configurate with all these elements a new "aura" of the place.

City Politics, Urbanistic Party (Urban Scheme) and J.L.G.

In the city of today the common sense or common politics isn't any longer to push these people out of their places. If any of their houses has to be erased for urbanizing the favela, the Town Hall offers them two options: to accept money for their houses (the Town Hall has a committee that evaluates the value of each of the houses) or to get a new house, in the complex, and in the interior of the intervention area.

Since when does the Rio Town Hall follow this politics of acknowledgement?

In 1994, when Cesar Maia was elected as Major, the Favela-Bairro program was established. In 2000, he was elected once again as Major.

What was the precise Town Hall strategy before 1994?

Its politics was to make disarticulated interventions like in all Latin America countries just to build some new residences, new pavements of the streets, new contentions on the hillside or introducing some services like kindergartens, posts of health, in a word: some services and improvements - but without a clear concept of what I call "urbanistic party" or urbanistic scheme. It's the "urbanistic party" that makes the difference. This notion defines the basis of the intervention. All questions are based on it: it regulates the whole of the variables that intervene - the articulation between urbanistic, social, cultural, economic as well as ecological questions.

The articulation between all these aspects is fundamental, it is the basis for the urbanistic project, which on the other hand is the basis that establishes the coherence of every proposal. I have already told you what I mean when I say that you have to read the structure of a given place. Reading implies distinguishing the different layers: the layer of central spots, the layer of physical and social limitations and possibilities, the layer of the system of waste, the layer of environmental aspects, etc. In my point of view, the most important question deals with all those readings, with the relation between the physical, the social and the cultural variables that defines the singularity of a place - clearly there is no other place like the specific place you're working on. Its physical characteristics, conditions and specific forms of social appropriation, of interaction between the different places and the community actions, and the community's occupation of the place.
In the favela each building acts like a monument. To me, even the smallest building in the favela has a symbolic function - a vestuario, the garbage post, the urbanistic and social orientation post for example has a important function as representation of the public in the interior of the private. In the favela, the public dimension did not exist before the intervention. All is private except the football field, the seat of the Community Association, and the kindergarten.
Most buildings have been constructed in a very precarious way. Nothing is elaborated. Neither the pre-existing kindergarten nor the social services. The responsibility of constructing anything in the interior of a favela is very important - the responsibility consists in the right of the favelados to acquire some benefits of the common life, of the city, of urbanity. Without these projects, without all these kinds of intervention, they wouldn't have any possibility to enjoy the advantages of the normal formal city.
The olympic village in Fubá-Campinho may work as an example. But more important than this, is the Center of Generation of Work and Income in the favela. That was the most difficult program to be established, for example in the favela of Salgueiro. The Center is a space that covers many activities: there are spaces for craftsmen, for lots of manual activities - repairing clothes, shoes, utensils, telephones, electronic equipments .all that is made by hands. A place where people repair all kinds of things which the urban middle class needs in their everyday life and that can be attracted to the Center. This Center is an "Favela-Bairro" articulator.
There are boxes of 4 to 4 meters in which one or two families work to offer services to the middle class people living in the quarters surrounding the favela. Those people arrive with their cars. There are many other activities, spaces for samba music, for weekend-parties, workshops, etc.
In the second floor of this house [sketch of Salgueiro] there are services offered by the Town hall. A public space conceived as an agora with entertainment, handicraft services, open until midnight, constituting a focus of the community life. All those services are offered by the Town Hall: for children, the elderly, for handicapped people and activities for the young population.
There are also Community parties like birthdays, "fiestas", balls, specific dancings which are connected to the favela culture like funk dancing - not the black funk music you might know but more like American rap, but American from our part of America ... to me America doesn't mean North America. The US act as a thief, stealing Latin America's identity, banalizing, pasteurizing Latin America. It's outraging . and the population of Latin America is larger than that of North America.

As told by Jean-Luc Godard in his movie Éloge de l'Amour:

"...de quel Américain s'agit-il
l'Amérique du Sud
je ne comprends pas, quelqu'un
des États-Unis
évidemment, mais le Brésil aussi
ce sont des États unis
les États-Unis du Brésil ..."*
* Jean-Luc Godard, Éloge de l'amour. Phrases, Paris (P.O.L.) 2001, 96-97

Exactly! Godard is absolutely right.

"Urban party" - methods & strategies

What you can see in a place and what you can hear when you listen to the people is completely different. You know Paul Klee distinguishes things you can see from the ***ones you can feel .one eye looks, the other feels.
So did the Spanish architect Enric Miralles, who once was invited by the Rio Town Hall and myself, for a workshop in the city. Enric knew nothing about favelas. But he had his own and very interesting way to go to a place and to study it. He compared himself with a dog: the nose close to the place to smell every detail, going around and smelling everything, looking around, listening, smelling ... combining his eyes, his ears, and his nose. A place needs to be interpreted in all its aspects, in many layers, in all its plateaux, as Deleuze and Guattari said.

Perspective of Manguinhos´s Metropolitan Park

Precisely which plateaux are you speakingf?

I'm talking about some of them. About a specific section of the reality: urbanistic, social, political, cultural, economic, and ecological strata. But there is one dimension that can only be interpreted by architects-urbanists: the capability to transform all those variables in a consistent formal and spatial configuration. No other specialist is capable of working that out. An integrated reading of the complexity of the reality creates the basis of an elaborated scheme of reading of the structure of the place.
This scheme here [sketch: scheme of reading of the structure of Fubá-Campinho] was the first sketch to start the Fubá Campinho Favela project, a scheme that registers the form of access to the favela, the topological relationship between the different parts of the favela. Clearly, it is an abstract sketch of all the parts of the favela, without dimensions while registering the position of the centers, identifying all of the central spots in the favela. Central spots are very important topics. When you understand where the centers are, you know how to connect and signify these different centers as points of interest capable of generating other new significations. If you understand how it worked before, you can find and develop the necessary new connections. It is exactly that what I call the "urbanistic party", that establishes the coherent basis of urbanizing or integrating previously not integrated parts between them and the surrounding areas, including the new social services.

So the concept of the "urbanistic party" implies a structure composed of multiple parts? Is it the urbanistic key to the formulation of the project, the structural dispositive of coherence for all its different aspects?

Yes, it is the coherent referential basis to formulate the central idea of the whole intervention, that guarantees the consistence of the "composition". The necessary connections between all parts and the introduction of the attributes of urbanity that I have mentioned.

The uses of philosophy and psychoanalysis

How do you practice Enric Miralles' "technique" of sniffing, looking, and listening? Do you speak to the people?
All the time I'm speaking with the favela dwellers! This way of working derives from the influence of other disciplines, not only from urbanism and architecture. Basically, from philosophy and psychoanalysis.
Why philosophy? The philosopher teaches us how to think. Thinking means for him connecting things, ideas, and events. The philosopher helps us to think about how to think about the connection of different elements. For him, thinking is the work of interweaving a fabric. So, you need a philosopher in the group, because it is always necessary to find new answers to old questions, and to think about new alternatives. City, society, the relation between society and the interior community of the favela - a permanent work in progress. What interest me most is Enric Miralles" attitude; the technique hails from psychoanalysis. I once asked a Deleuzian philosopher: What does "city" mean for you? He answered immediately: "The city is the fluxus of everything passing through: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, information; the movement, the time".
The architect has to capture, to understand, and to formalize these different kinds of movement in a given moment of history for a specific situation in a specific place.

And why psychoanalysis?

We learn from the psychoanalysis how "to listen" to a certain speaker. In our case, how to listen to the people, how to respond to their "demands".
The psychoanalyst's questions are completely different from those the sociologist formulates. Usually, the sociologist is interested in the general average, not in the subjective implications of the demands.
The psychoanalyst is interested in the singular person, in all his or her singularity or individuality. Similarly, architects have to listen to every single person and every single problem, to their or her demands, to what people desire, establishing the difference between latent and manifest demands.
The demand itself is ambiguous! In a real relation between an architect and a client the latter might be an individual, a politician, a group of clients, a Community Association, even a banker. It is clearly necessary not only to trust in what a certain client says by words, but also what he does not say. There is always a certain hiatus between the speaker and the spoken. In this "listening" the subject shows "errors", oppressed thoughts, wishes, informations, non-rational arguments. In its discourse you "listen" to the subject's non-rational dimension. As architects we must especially listen to those parts of the client's discourse.
Sure, I am not a psychoanalyst (and I don't want to be one), so my responsibility in this sense is limited, but I am a member of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Rio - Letra Freudiana, a Lacanian school of psychoanalysis. It is definitely somewhat "luxurious" to utilize a psychoanalytic methodology - but a valid, a necessary and productive luxury in my point of view.

What implies the psychoanalytical approach to us as architects? In which way could this approach be useful for us?

A very significative question!
Freud says that the subject is not a master in its own house. The subject is not fully responsible for itself, the unconscious acts. Everything the subject expresses has to be interpreted - a difficult job indeed. What does that mean for our job? Infrastructure is necessary like the pavement, a kindergarten, contentions ... very fundamental things demanded by the favela people. But it is necessary to go beyond those demands. It is necessary to go beyond the relationship between architect and "clients", wich is normally limited to the level of only demands. It is necessary to permit the"emergence" of desires, through that is a didactic task of making it possible for people to understand what they have right to desire.
The relationship between the architect and the favela-"clients" has to be elaborated in such a way that possible desires emerge in the dialogue, a discourse which always should try to go beyond "the possible" - not to remain within what your interlocutor might consider as "the possible", but to arrive at the area of the "non-expressed". A subject can wish something without knowing it, without having any idea about it. So this dialogue has to show to the "client" his right to desire and which he or she did not know before the "psychoanalytic" relationship between the architect and favela-"client" had been installed in a process. The architect has to create an "atmosphere" in which the client' s true desires have the chance to emerge. So I understand the architect's work as never being previously definable. This desire emerges only in the specific relation - like in a psychoanalytic process, in an "architectural transference".
To me, the transferences in the sense of a psychoanalytic process are valid - or work - in the relationship between the architect and the "client", in relation with the processing of the demands, that is a fundamental question in relation to the individual as well as the collective. According to psychoanalysis, the question is not to respond but to interpret the demands in a consistent configuration that requires the articulation of ethical, aesthetical and political dimensions.

We could then say that the psychoanalytic part of the design process is something like a kaleidoscopic instrument, which shows the pieces of a puzzle of "the possible" and "the non- expressed" in different constellations which could not been seen without processual movements, which are introduced by the "talkings-cure".

Psychoanalysis draws our attention to this question related with the ethic when - facing all types of the determinations (economic, political, social, cultural determinations) the "projectual act" implies an ethical position that I would summarize as following: "Do what it is necessary to do". But this right is not in a relation with moral or law. It is just a right in which a certain "beyond the demand" is permanently working. It is for this reason that the question is not to try to please, like a manner of seduction or harmony. However, this is clearly not the fundamental issue.
We can say that the ethics of an architect is related with the intangible that sees behind the curtain, that is to say behind the articulations that he made between the project ("dessin") and the intentions ("dessein").
So it is necessary to know that the question of the "interpretation" of the demands implies "listening" beyond the declarations. This signifies establishing the difference between what the client asks for, and doing what he desires, what he needs - which almost never coincides with what he had asked for.
If we act according to the client's requests, we do not get to understand him. We only obey him, merely responding to his manifest demands but not to his latent demands.
The question is not that "the client does not know what he wants", but to hear, to try to understand, to establish the hierarchies and to organize the ensemble of dreams, problems, limitations, potentialities and expectations around the - overt or covert - demands.

On beauty as demand

Normally favela-people are totally excluded from the "right to beauty". But this right is as important as the right to infrastructure, to social services or to education.

Do you speak of beauty as of a category of objects or as of a category of thoughts and thinking?

I speak in the sense of a category of thinking and as an ethical issue. The responsibility for the "right to beauty" is the specific responsibility of an architect. Not all professions are capable of responding to this fundamental demand.
The architect will not be useful in social terms, if he does not synthesize ethics and aesthetics in a consistent formal and spatial configuration in each space and dealing with each object, whether isolated (architecture), or in a group (urbanism). When he does not understand his work in this way, he does less than he could and should do. Beauty is a question of spiritual necessity! And an essential component of the architectural task. Beauty is always something that makes the difference. It is a central question, always a challenge related to creativity, the new and truth.

You have spoken of your philosophical and psychoanalytic approach to your work. What about an ethnopsychoanalytical approach, which would let us understand different meanings of terms like "normal" or "normality" as well as "strange" or "strangeness" and which - as a consequence - would demonstrate us that our "standard" understanding of these terms is just the consequence of our way of being socialized. This approach could install the interest for different kinds of "being normal" as well as reducing the prejudices against them. A better understanding for different "normalities" seems to be of high interest in the relationship between favelados and the other citizens.

You're right, but actually I don't have a specific dialogue with an ethnologist. However, I recognize that the architect has to be open to all types of external stimuli and contributions from other disciplines to be able to think. The model of attitude is the surfer, who has to study the characteristics of the waves, he has to find his specific way of "connection" with the wave. He has neither to dominate - which is impossible - nor to submit himself to the wave "that is coming" towards him - which could kill him. But he has to find the best way to go for it. It's a political question. Not to be submitted but to find the best interactions with the existing forces.
This is a form-image to me, given by the philosopher: What kind of interactions, intersections and articulations necessarily have to be done in any part of the work between the existent and the new in order to produce the desired "activated fabric"? in the case of the urban problems.
The idea is to find new articulations capable of joining the physical, the social and the cultural, with the specific idea of the architecture and urbanism as activator mechanism.

War-methodology: from S- to XL-scale

What is the difference between one proposal and another? Between a certain "urbanistic party" and another one elaborated by other interdisciplinary teams?

It's like comparing different poetics. Different poetics imply different approaches to the world. What is in play when you go to a place to make a project?
It is a permanent work in thinking, never resolved. No project resembles the other. We have done more than twenty projects of favela urbanization in Rio in eight years. To refer to Rem Koolhaas' vocabulary: we had made the passage through all the urbanistic scales - from the S to the XL-scale of projects. What does this imply?
In a Favela-Bairro-Project (M and L scales) and in the Bairrinho-Project (S scale) the problem is to conceive a specific urban party. It is about urban design, the challenge of urbanizing medium or big size favelas.
Extrapoling a large to the extra-large scale means to distinguish between urban design and urban planning or strategic planning. The problem we have to deal in this moment is the formulation of an urbanistic plan of actions for an important sector of the city called Complexo do Alemão - a favela that once was the place of a big ancient farm ("fazenda") of German people, the name of which remained in membrance for the whole area. The area of intervention includes eleven favelas forming the "German complex" including three quarries, an enormous green area covering the top of the hills, two districts, and a powerful industrial surrounding. In this case, the problem is not to elaborate an urban party but to develop guidelines for this important sector of the northern city, aiming to establish clear references for the urban evolution and to indicate some exemplary points of intervention to provoke a process of re-generation in the existing urban and social fabric, searching for an articulation of the "formal" and the "informal" city.
The XL-scale implies different methodologies in which intervene with more relevance juridical questions, problems of regional planning including road systems, different means of transportation, trains, subway, busses, and including informal means like "vans", moto-taxis, "kombis", etc.

Where does the money for these big interventions come from?

Well, it depends principally on the public sector on the Town Hall scale, but also of the dialogue between the federal domain and the State Government - of the articulation between the three levels of the public sector, and the agreements with the private forces of the neighbourhoods and with enterprises, NGOs, and the support of the Community Associations that act in the surroundings ... many instances and diversified interests. I'm working now for a favela in Caracas of one million inhabitants. You can overlook this favela only from the helicopter. When you go around by feet it is impossible to have the slightest idea of its dimension, and configuration.
I thought that I would know all about favelas from my Brazilian experiences. But in Caracas I found new problems! Two favelas with one million people each. The one in which we are working is Petare. We made a contract with the public sector. We form a consort together with a firm from Caracas. The consort will realize the project. First the masterplan has to be done, then, the specific projects will be developed. In the case of a XL-scale we have to use a sort of "war-methodology" - acting with a general idea about what the area signifies for the city, and recognizing the impossibility to intervene in all the places at the same time.
So we have to establish many "commands of actions" co-ordinated by urban architects with a series of commanders established by transdisciplinary groups - architects, lawyers, geologists, sociologists, engineers, people of specific knowledges, experiences and methodologies that are articulated by an intersection between strategic planning and urban design.
Clearly the methodologies for a huge project like this one cannot be the same as for a normal Favela-Bairro-Project. We have to construct a form of thinking, a scheme of approach including many other variables completely different from those adopted in the Favela-Bairro-Project.

Plan of the Metropolitan park of Manguinhos

What about the term war within urban planning?

It is a risky comparison from my part, I know. It implies that this work and this scale of intervention demand a centralized command and a series of subcommands at each "front" of intervention. I know that it might be dangerous to speak in this way - speaking in terms of military strategies is likely to be misunderstood. But what I would like to say is this: a big favela like Petare, in Caracas, establishes clear and strong and not tranferable responsibilities for each area of intervention interacting withing the interdisciplinary fields. Such a coordinated work must avoid the current dispersion, for me it is the only form to execute this task, a huge challenge.
The necessary approach will be developed by urban readings of the structure of the place derived from the interaction between the physical configuration and the form in which each community is established in its territory. In this case, there are further problems beyond economical and social questions: there are problems of nationality, of religion etc., because in this favela live many Columbians, and refugees that provokes other additional connotations.

Favelas and drug traffickers

Who is your main partner, when you start a new favela-project - is it the Community Association?

Yes. We never work without discussing with the Community Association. Its existence implies an important level of popular organization and representativeness.

How many people work for or in a Community Association?

You mean how many representatives? There are representatives of many different favela-groups: women, different sectors of work, of religions, of guards, children, the elderly , handicapped and young people etc. - usually between fifteen and twenty persons in each Community Association and usually very well organized groups. All this does not imply that the drug traffickers are not present. They are present too, but implicitly through certain individuals.
Drug traffickers do exist in every favela, there is no favela without drug traffickers. In some of them their presence is very ostensive, in others rather discrete: they don't appear in the public meetings, but they don't make impossible the works.

But they are themselves not members of the Community Association?

Not directly. The members of Community Associations are more or less related to the traffickers. There are communities where the representatives are directly representatives of the traffickers. In those cases it is difficult to discuss, to establish a certain continuity, because these representatives change very quickly.

Why do they replace their representatives so quickly?

Because the commands of the differents groups or "drug associations" are permanently in war among each other - a fact that leads to a substitution, according to the winner.

Schedules, time-budgets and again the drug traffic

Which time do you normally need from the first sketch until a favela-project is finished?

My contracts with the Town Hall - from the moment I win the competition up to the final works - vary from six to nine months, depending of the dimension of the favela: six month for a small or medium, nine month for a big favela.

Are you still involved in a project when the enterprises start to realize it?

There are different circumstances. Normally a competition needs one to three months work, in exceptional cases six months. In this time I go to the favela very often, as much as necessary. In some cases a construction starts when the basic project is finished, that is before the final project is completely finished, detailed, but in other cases the execution starts with the basic project only.

Are you then officially introduced to the Community Association by the Town Hall?

Not at the first moment. During the competition I go by myself. I call the Community Association to make the first appointment in the favela and normally, when I arrive, there are always people waiting for me. I don't go to the favela without having fixed a date with some of the Community Association's representatives.
When I win a competition, the Town Hall makes a formal presentation of my team that will be working in this community in the following months. During the period of elaboration of the project I don't go to the favela as often as before, because the more important work has to be done in the office. But representatives of the favela-people come to my office to create the ambience of confiability. They have to know the office. Of course we have an external office-post in the favela itself - not during the phase of elaborating the project but immediately when the construction works begin. In this moment I need by contract this post in the favela, to establish a delegation of my office at the building site to supervise the construction. The delegation consists of an architect, two trainees and the necessary technological infrastructure: a computer-base working in net with my central office, including a plotter, printer, etc.
We are permanently there during the construction-phase to supervise the works - normally eighteen to twenty four months. The relations between the architect and the building contractor are always tense because the latter intends always to reduce the costs - and this could imply to substitute specific materials. So you have to control everything like everywhere - but even more in a favela. It is much more problematic there because even the public sector is not very interested in high quality and there can be important changes in the execution if you are not very observant.
When the construction works are finished there is a urbanistic and social orientation post where an architect of the Town Hall and representatives of the Community have to regulate possible conflicts. Within my eight years of favela-experience this institution rarely has worked. But sometimes the public sector is not capable to maintain the post, respectively to expulse the traffickers, it's exactly the opposite way around: the traffickers expulse the representatives of the public sector in some cases.

What exactly is - or was - the function of this urbanistic and social orientation post? Is it or was it intended to be a permanent institution?

It has to regulate contradictions, to listen to the community, to register problems, to co-ordinate the maintenance of the executed work. This post is conceived to be a delegation of the Town Hall in the favela to regulate the relations between public and private interests and to canalise complains.

How would you characterize the difference between the normality of daily life lbefore and after the intervention compared to the quality of a normal quarter of the city?

There is a great difference. The most important one is the chance to move in and through the favela. Before the intervention there is no - or no easy - public access. The regular presence of the police is not possible before, because the ways do not allow vehicles to go through. Before an intervention a favela is a ghetto without any public access or only reduced access. Normally the drug traffickers retire from an urbanized favela.

Do they really disappear or do they only become invisible?

They disappear not at all. They retire from the principal parts of the favela because the urbanized favela is not longer safe for them.

Do they move to the favela's periphery?

No, first they move to other favelas in the surroundings.

The drug traffic is still ongoing, but the traffickers are not permanently there?

Sometimes they come back after the interventions, but not permanently, because the police can use the public access now.

Would you say that an urbanized favela has what it needs to become a bairro free from the drug trafficker's rules and their violence?

Urbanism has never solved any problem due to the fact that problems involved are socio-economic issues as a whole. But urbanization policies are powerful instruments to combat the drug traffickers' existence combined with security and socio-economic development policies. They have a great real and symbolic significance.

In which way are the favela-people normally related or otherwise connected to the drug traffickers?

Let me give you an example: In the favela of A Pedreira representatives of the Community Association have told me that the situation becomes more and more complicated and that boys and girls from one favela better do not meet any longer young people from another favela in the neighbourhood unless they would like to risk their lives. Drug traffickers don't hesitate to kill. The different groups are in a real war. The situation resembles more and more the one in Israel and Palestine. A grave social situation.

Is this a normal situation in almost every favela?

Each favela is a single case with no similarity with any other. The corrosive existence of drug-traffickers is due to the absence of the public sector or to its very fragile presence. This is a reality that has endured for a long time. To change this dramatic situation you need a long-term social policy. Urbanization combined with other policies related to education, generation of work and income, health, security, strategic planning articulated with urban design, are the only way to resolve the intrincate current situation.

Would you say that the favela dwellers - in spite of all those dramatic aspects - are happier about the interventions from the start?

Today, starting from the experience of the work already executed, when you set foot in the favela, everyone wants the urbanization. There is really a great demand for the program, and the civic attitude changes very much. They come to have a proud attitude regarding the favela; in this sense I can say that they are happier after the urbanization, without any doubt! Compared to their dependance on the current negative conditions, they certainly do. The issue is always about the necessity to introduce services, to improve physical spaces, to introduce cultural equipments and to create conditions to provide jobs. According to the urban upgrading, the latter aspect is very important.

Do you know favelas whose inhabitants are so strongly connected to the drug traffickers that they do not want any intervention?

I don't know any case. Normally, they need to have the support of the local population and then they aren't opposed to the urbanization, even knowing that they will stay much more vulnerable. In some cases the traffickers work for the people supporting the absence of a public sector like in the case of transport to the hospital for the sick, economic support for families in difficulties, etc.

They help them?

Yes, they do. In my experience I never met traffickers who were against the program. They need the approval of the Community to establish good relations to the people in the favela in order to not be denounced.
I remember a very special event. It was a very hot day in the favela Fernão Cardim. I was there nearly without any clothes, only with pants like on the beach, in a place without any shadow. All the architectural plans were humid because the people touched them with their hands. It was about high noon, many people were there and it was very noisy. There was music and I spoke through the microphone presenting our project. Suddenly somebody touched my shoulder telling me: "Jorge I would like to present to you ,João'". I was just discussing with many people who asked me for details of the project. Suddenly I remembered having read in the newspapers the name I was told as the name of the big boss of that favela. Then I saw him: a young man between twenty and twenty five years, very well dressed, with shirt and tie, in a perfect suit, very elegant - and I was nearly naked, like a beggar in front of a winner. I looked at him and said: "You want to look at the project?" He answered: "No. All that is approved by the Community Association is approved. Your project is totally approved. Here nobody is going to bother you!" Strange feeling: I felt that nobody would ever touch me - I felt to be in the most secure place of the world!

You were under the personal protection of the big boss?

Yes, indeed. I didn't know what to say. I could have said to him: "If you have something to suggest, just let's have a coffee." But I didn't. We shook hands and he turned around and went away through all these people. I never saw or met him again. It never happened anything that made our work difficult or impossible.

What happens when people refuse to serve the traffickers? We have read reports dealing with the brutality and the violence exerted on people who refuse to cooperate.

Like you, I only know about these cases from the newspapers; I know that they exist, but I don't know anything more specific.

To whom does an occupied territory belong?

The question of private property everywhere is one of the main problems of the ruling classes. As in many parts of the world in Brazil hundreds of thousands people have occupied public ground and built houses on it. Are the favela people interested to transform their juridical non-position? Are they interested in regular contracts? Would they be proud to say: "This is my ground, this is my own house?" And do the Rio City Authorities want those people to become legal users respectively owners of the ground?

This was one of the initial questions to face. At the end of our work of urbanization we needed to give the authorities the plan containing the differentiation between private and public space domains. This is the basis for the legalization of each residence that receives the property title. While works of urbanization come to an end the law and its practice needs a long time for a fundamental change. The favela dwellers are profoundly interested in legalizing the situation because they depend on their inclusion in the formal social net of relations, that to give an example permits to get credit in normal commerce of the city that demands a formal address, for example.

We have read that after five years of occupation the territory belongs to the occupier. Does a law exist that regulates all juridical questions?

Yes, it's called "uso capião", but this law is not applied to the case of the favelas. The whole situation related to the law administration is characterized by complicated processes and procedures that demand a strong group of lawyers working permanently for this purpose. The "Estatuto das Cidade" (Statute of the City, see www.polis.org.br/publicacoes) has not been aproved yet. Amongst other things the law establishes that those parts of favelas which imply danger for their inhabitants or others (like in case of inundations, terrain liable to slips etc..) are not safe from removals. *

Does Rio's Town Hall wish to legalize the situation?

Yes, that is one of the principal questions to be solved. To permit the transition from illegal to legal, from informal to formal conditions of citizenship.

Would you say, that the favela inhabitants are highly interested in getting those contracts?

Yes, they are. Before the intervention the property has a certain value and after the intervention it has a higher value - one of the reasons for the people to be very interested in the urbanization project.

Did the favela people pay any taxes before the intervention?

Not taxes, they only paid certain charges for electricity - but there are many illegal derivations. The pre-existent infrastructure was made by themselves with some irregular support by the public power.

Kindergarten in Rio das Pedras favela

Do the favela people have to pay taxes after the intervention?

Yes. But in proportion to the conditions of an "area of special social interest". There is a declaration of the condition of "area of special social interest" by the "Cámara dos Vereadores" in the Town Hall's law. This implies to freeze the situation that permits to elaborate the proposal of urbanistic structuration and a little law applied to the specific situation of each urbanized favela. This little law is derived from the general law of the City and adapted to the specific favela situation.

A special set of laws especially made for favelas?

Yes, and this special law is entitled "Leizinha".

Is this law valid only for a specific situation in a specific favela? And who has formulated that law?

The law was suggested by the multidisciplinary team responsible for the elaboration of the project. The law or "leizinha" was submitted to the municipal authorities and approved by them. It has been adapted to the general law of the city considering the specific condition of each favela.

What does "Lezinha" exactly mean? And precisely what does it establish?

"Lezinha" rules the occupation and the use of the ground: for example the different zones of a favela, the number of floors of a building, the limits between private and public areas.

So "Leizinha" has nothing to do with the juridical definition of the property?

In principle "leizinha" establishes the delimitations between public and private domains. The property title will be prepared by the Town Hall later.

Is "Lezinha" something like a Zoning-plan?

Yes, in some sense, because it implies a plan fixing the right to build in this or that sector; the right of people to live or to stay there. It establishes the coefficients of construction for each street , each sector, etc.

Without any contract?

These contracts are made through the legalization of the property of the ground as a whole by the Town Hall, on the basis of our project that defines the dimensions of each alotment.

So an additional aspect of the "urbanistic party" is juridical?

Yes. It is the reference to defining a new legal condition for the favela's dwellers - and this is a very significant part.

Did the authorities formerly follow the strategy of "tabula rasa" in Rio?

They did so before the Favela-Bairro-program was launched, in the period of the military dictatorship.

Is the Favela-Bairro program typical only for Rio?

Yes, it is still the only initiative in this ample vision in the whole country.

The strategy is so exemplary that it should work as a model for other cities or regions.

I think so. For example for the rest of Latin America, or Egypt or India or Africa too. The reason that this project is limited to Rio, that it is has not even been practised in other cities of the country has to do with the fact that such a program needs a certain amount of money, a counterpart of the Town Hall on the one hand, and on the other it needs a Federal approval to get the loans from an international agency.

Who gives and from where comes the money?

The program gets the necessary money from the Bank of International Development - 70 %, the rest, 30 %, comes from the Town Hall of Rio.

Did the Favela-Bairro program influence the urban politics of other countries?

Argentina, Venezuela, México and Uruguay for instance. Those countries did not adopt the program or the methodologies themselves, they started forms of co-operations and common initiatives. I'm in contact with municipal authorities in Cordoba (Argentina), in Caracas and in Montevideo, to carry out studies and projects to establish a similar program of interventions.

Would you say that the Rio Town Hall administration acts like an urbanistic and social avant-garde?

Sure, it does. I would call it an avant-garde laboratory! The situation of Rio is unique and very complex. The United Nations have programs in Egypt, in India and other countries, but not in the way we do it here in Rio. Not in such all-embracing way. For me the essential difference is this: Rio has established a strategy to understand the logic of configuration of these places, to decipher this logic and to intervene in order to accentuate a new centrality in a given configuration, to introduce new facilities, etc. In one word: to establish the principles of a real sociourbanistic intervention in a given structure, to create a nucleus that transforms the favela into a normal district ("bairro") in a process, a nucleus that expands its influence transforming all spaces of the favela in a non-ending process. Rio has established a procedure that generates a consistent process of transformation.
In the majority of the existing projects in other cities of Brazil, in Argentina, Chile, Egypt, or in India, the administrations principally construct new houses, they establish mere housing programs. But constructing residences is completely different from building a city! Transferring people from one place and from an existing net of social relations to another is the worst solution possible.

It's exactly what the administrations do in Shanghai and Peking today: erasing complete quarters in city centers and forcing people to live somewhere in the outskirts in multi-storey-residence-towers.

There was a similar situation in São Paulo during the government of Paulo Maluf, ten years ago.

Kindergarten in the favela of Fubá

Is there any "urbanistic-tourism" in Rio because of the Favela-Bairro-Program?

Not in a well organized manner still. But the possibility really exists. My own interest is to establish forms of co-operation, forms of interchange with international organizations, for example in Europe, because the experiences of European cities are rather related to ours and our history through Spain and Portugal than to the ones of the United States. Today the United States are the reference to all the bad things that afflict our cities: shopping centers, gated neighbourhoods and all kinds of "garbage spaces" as Rem Koolhaas calls them. The "garbage space"-concept is interesting for me. It includes all the calamities happening in our contemporary mega-cities ... It is this dramatic transformation of the city that makes it necessary to establish other forms of co-operation - co-operations of thinking and acting. We have to create specific programs, special urban cells capable to propose small transformations growing in a continuous process. What succeeds would be important and would have a symbolic significance. It is necessary to establish relations with contact organizations of the European Union, NGOs, universities and research centers, in order to develop specific programs of co-operation.

Outlines of an architect's biography

Jorge, how did you feel after having received the Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design from Harvard?

Just great. My "visibility" before and after is very different, new possibilities to establish new international collaborations are now ameliorating very much.

Is seems important not only for yourself that Harvard has awarded your projects for this prize. It revalues this kind of work and lets the world know that the Favela-Bairro-Program exists - it's the very reason because we've asked you for this meeting - and that there are architects and urbanists who begin to feel their social responsibility ...

In this sense, I think that this prize has a symbolic value too, because it signalizes a new attention that understands the necessity of restart the social engagement of architects and urbanists and to open the way not only for many other architects and urbanists but also for further programs and approaches in the world to work in this direction. It is impossible today not to recognize the precariousness of the relationship between social and urbanistic questions in the world, between aesthetic and ethic dimensions of any urbanistic and architectural work. The Harvard Prize people were very smart to understand the need of this kind of work and to understand the need to award this type of projects.

How did you start your work? Could you tell us some details of your biography?

With pleasure. I was politically engaged. I was a political militant in Argentina. After the military and political coup d'état, I had to leave the country in 1978, and Brazil was the next country to stay for a short period. Clearly I hoped to return as soon as possible. But then I transformed myself from a political-technical militant to a technical-political subject in Brazil, from a militant in politics I transformed myself to a militant of architecture and urbanism. And like all Argentinian architects in the world I formed a group of study after having arrived in Brazil. It is a vice. Argentinians form groups of study in all parts of the world where they arrive. I soon knew many Brazilian architects. There is a profound difference between Argentinian and Brazilian architectural practice: Argentinian architects like to think too much and have opportunities of construct too little, whereas Brazilian architects construct too much and prefer to think too little ...
Now, starting from this group of study I founded a space of reflection called Center of Architectonic and Urbanistic Studies in Rio. I founded a group that made projects about Guanabara Bay, the district of Botafogo, the Waterfront of Rio de Janeiro. We presented the project to the autorities and many other studies about specific places of the city. At the same time I started to write and to publish in Brazil in the two existing magazines: "Projeto" and "A & U, Arquitetura e Urbanismo".
I was first known in Brazil as an architectural thinker than as a project-maker.
When the opportunity of participating in competitions occured in Rio, public competitions of the formal city in the urban scale in 1994, with Rio's mayor Cesar Maia - he was the principal animator of this debate from the political point of view -, I reorganized my office towards the participation in public competitions.
I'm working in this direction, even more and more.

Meeting with the communitarian association in City of God

*(The law applied to the favelas is the "Estatuto da Cidade" - The Statute of the City, but it hasn't been approved yet. This law establishes that the favelas shouldn't be remove, except in the case in which it's presence implies danger to them or others (like in the case of inundations, landslides, excessive proximity to greater infrastructures, etc).