Elisabeth Blum and Peter Neitzke



- How long have you known Jorge Mario Jáuregui?

We contacted Jorge Mario Jáuregui after the German architectural weekly magazine »Bauwelt« (http://www.baunetz.de/arch/bauwelt/archiv/) had published as an important news that in December 2000 the Harvard Graduate School of Design had awarded Jorge Mario Jáuregui the »Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design« for a series of projects implemented through the program »Favela-Bairro«, a collaborative initiative that has transformed impoverished favelas in and around Rio de Janeiro into functioning bairros (quarters).
As authors / editors we immediately understood the importance and significance of this special award and the basic necessity to make Jáuregui’s activities and projects known in the German speaking world.
We made a first appointment with Jáuregui in order to interview him. The interview entitled »Rio ist so etwas wie ein Zukunftslaboratorium« (»Rio as a Future Laboratory«) became a significant part of our book later on published as »FavelaMetropolis. Berichte und Projekte aus Rio de Janeiro und São Paulo« (»FavelaMetropolis. Reports and Projects in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo«, Basel (Birkhauser) 2004, see:
http://www.springer.com/dal/home/birkhauser/architecture+&+design?SGWID=1-40463-22-34425332-0). For the book’s complete contents see: http://www.amazon.de/gp/reader/3764370637/ref=sib_dp_pt/302-4450164-9682411#reader-link
Our first discussion with Jorge Mario Jáuregui (2002) was so impressive and evidentiary in its arguments that we decided to return to Rio de Janeiro (2003) in order to meet him a second time and not only to have a several hours during interview with him to engross the thoughts but also to visit the places of his urbanistic interventions together with him.


- In what capacity have you known Jorge Mario Jáuregui?

As an extraordinary socially dedicated architect Jáuregui represents for us all the ideas and activities Rem Koolhaas basically misses in the architectural profession (see his essay “What ever happened to Urbanism?”). Koolhaas accuses architects of having withdrawn themselves in the »parasitic security« of architecture instead of acting in sociopolitical contexts concerning urbanistic tasks and thus having brought down the whole profession to total meaningleessness. Particularly seen from an European viewpoint Jáuregui is an outstanding person. Committed to the social and political tasks of the architect’s work he is practicing quite the contrary of the ordinary architect’s attitudes and activities inasmuch he is demonstrating the positive results of social engagement in the field of urbanism.

- What is your opinion of Jáuregui´s contribution to research, thinking and practice in the human settlements?

Jorge Mario Jáuregui is not only a practicing architect designing urban projects but likewise a genuine theoretist finding clarifying terms that are adequate to his challenging urbanistic interventions.
As a creative thinker Jáuregui has for example developed the term »partido urbanistico«, a kind of key or structural coherent dispositive through which he formulates every particular project, combining urbanistic, social, cultural, economic, and ecological aspects in a unique conceptual formal and spatial configuration. What makes his theoretical and practical methods intriguing, sophisticated as well as coherent is their interdisciplinary coaction in the “reading of the existing site”. His first and most important approach to a new favela urbanization project always is the question how to »read« the different »strata« and their correlations:

central places, physical and social limits and possibilities, waste management, further ecological aspects etc.
Above all Jáuregui’s urbanistic interventions benefit from psychoanalysis as science and practice. Jáuregui applies its methods by distinguishing manifest and latent needs of the favela people as clients. Thus he emphasizes the traditional relationship between the architect and his clients by developing the possible options of the latter.

Jorge Mario Jáuregui is an architect who is dedicating his work – and, as we might add, his life – to a social task of utmost significance and priority: upgrading, that is to say humanizing life conditions in Brazilian favelas through urbanistic and architectural interventions of sustainable quality. Both his activities and his writings show that and how architects can do more than to design brilliant objects. Internationally accepted through the Harvard prize Jáuregui demonstrates that architects can broaden the professional horizon, and that there is always a way to seize the chance to intervene in given urban and social situations - combining social commitment, creative methods including forms of cooperation between planners and clients, and spatial solutions.

Elisabeth Blum and Peter Neitzke