International Housing

International Housing Scene

Created By: Omonjon Yusupov, Jeremiah Biggins


The Brazilian research group ‘Language in Activities in School Contexts’ (Linguagem em Atividades do Contexto Escolar – LACE) has developed a collaborative school project, the Digit-M-Ed Hyperconnecting Brazil Project[1], as a response to the demands perceived in society in the research and practices of the researchers and practitioners of the group.

Watch the film of the occupation of empty buildings in Sao Paulo then read about how they conduct their community/university projects

The occupation of empty buildings in Sao Paulo,

Click on the image to watch the video==>



METHODOLOGY: Freire’s “Viable Unheard of”

For 2018, the project was called Digitmed Program and included researchers form the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism for The University of São Paulo (USP), as well. This new phase of the project (2018-2020) operates in the direction of the construction of projects whose focus is the promotion of the unviable unheard of, proposed by Freire (1970/1987). In other words, it is a program that is based on overcoming situations bordering on solutions, arising from the combination of repertoires already lived in new solutions unpublished. Specifically, its objectives are:

  • developing de-encapsulated projects that allow remarkable experiences in which knowledge, values, ways of acting, of being, of feeling and of thinking are problematized and can be appropriated as recoverable resources.
  • creating opportunities for experiencing contradiction and collaborative experience to expand living resources and build broad repertoires.
  • fostering responsible and responsive engagement with projects that de-encapsulate and build transformative activist positions.

In 2018, the project was organized to work with the Freirian concept of “viable unheard of”, the social activity of architect transformations in neighborhoods and the leading topic was formulated in terms of a question: how to resist-expand in shared landscape. These choices were made based on the perception of the research group that that was not to be an easy year. In 2018, the country was experiencing a great turn to  far-right positions which included deeply conservative views on education, religion, family among other important cultural, ecological, political and economic issues. This influenced relationships in all different contexts and led to a great wave of intolerance in the country.

The choice to go beyond resisting into expanding was based on the desire to think about proposals and not simply about how to struggle against the attack to different forms of freedom society was going through, but, above all, develop ways to live together and find possibilities of overcoming conflict in a a more liberating way. Therefore, the choice to think about the “viable unheard of” had to do with creating forms of living together with and because of differences. And for “architect transformations in the neighborhood or city” was a means to prove to everyone that they had the power to create something together.

From its beginning, the project has combined different schools, however, the main schools[7] involved in the project in 2018 were: two public schools – EE Professor José Sérgio Pereira (2016), CEU Perus (2018) – and four private ones – Stance Dual School (2014), Colégio Stagio (2014), Colégio do Instituto SELI (2015), Colégio Rio Branco (2017), Colégio Ábaco (2018).

The year was organized with the following themes:

 Workshop 1: The city – in this first meeting participants brought artifacts from their cities/neighborhoods to share with their colleagues, discussed about similarities and differences, problems and qualities, After that they created posters with pictures of their cities they had brought for the meeting. To conclude the meeting images form different cities form around the world were presented and aspects such as housing, transportation, leisure activities, health care, ecology were discussed and the homework was presented. Participants were to present their neighborhoods in a artistic station, stating what they wanted to keep, to expand, or to create in there, showing qualities and difficulties they faced there.

Workshop 2: neighborhood – in the second meeting, participants presented their school neighborhood with the stations and were supposed to visit their colleagues in two turns. They had some questions to answer about their friends’ neighborhood based on the following categories organized by the researchers:

o   Mobility: safety, transportation, traffic and its configuration in the neighborhoods

o   Social interaction: culture, leisure and sports – ways of being and acting in the public space

o   Training and social development: education, health care, social security, employment and its configuration in the neighborhoods

o   Participation: urban planning, councils, associations, local and intersectoral management

o   Uses and infrastructure: housing, commerce, services, social equipment, infrastructure,  sanitation and its configuration in the neighborhoods

After observing each other’s stations participants discussed the neighborhood in groups per category using infographics. Based on the information they collected about the school neighborhoods they created infographics related to their categories to be presented to the whole group. After that, they were introduced to a new media: the  datawall,  which they were going to use to complete their homework – they had to involve the school in evaluating the school neighborhood based on the categories presented by the researchers.

Workshop 3: the desired city/ neighborhood

In this workshop, participants presented their various datawall and told the group the process they went through in the schools in order to create them. Some days before this meeting, a 26-storey building, occupied by squatters[F1] , had collapsed after being engulfed in flames. Because that was a housing problem related to city problems and the positions regarding this situation were very opposing with some people even condemning the occupiers for the problem and for the resulting circumstances in which they had to live (on tents on the square in front of the ruins of the building), the researchers decided to bring this topic for the discussion. In order to do that, they firstly asked the participants to draw pictures and write the dreams they had for their neighborhood after presenting the main problems and qualities in their datawall. When they finished doing that, one of the researchers collected the piece of paper with their “dreams” and put fire to that.

Participants were shocked and annoyed. The researchers then invited them to see a film with different perspectives on occupations/invasions which ended with narratives of the people who occupied the build that had caught fire on that week. Many participants cried and during the open group discussion they presented their views on the situation. The next task involved reading definitions and articles on occupation/ invasion and ownership. The participants had different housing situation they were supposed to debate based on the texts they got. After that they had to perform a solution to the housing problem they discussed. The groups presented their performances to the big group and discussed about it.

Workshop 4: the city in transformation

In the last meeting of the first semester, as a means for the participant to exercise their civil right to plan transformations, the researchers invited for the meeting two people involved in the political scenery of Sao Paulo city, from two opposing but not radical (left and right wing) positions . The participants, in small groups, organized a performance which created the possibility for everyone to visualize their questions and suggestions to the politicians. The two invited politicians discussed the questions posed and presented their ideas to participants.

Workshop 5: The plans for the country

After the winter vacation, the country went through a much harder moment in terms of politics. The approaching elections created a lot of fights and discussions among friends and families. The researchers organized a discussion based on the political proposals of the presidential candidates and divided the participants in groups

[1] For more about the project refer to Liberali et al., 2017; Liberali, Magalhães et al., 2017; Liberali et al., 2015; Damianovic et al., 2016; Liberali, Clarissa, 2015; Pêssoa, 2016; Rittner, 2014.

[2] Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.

[3] New London Group, [1996] 2000; Rojo, 2012, 2013.

[4] Liberali, 2009; Carvalho, Santiago, and Liberali 2014; Liberali and Santiago, 2016.

[5] Lobman and Lundquist, 2007; Holzman, 2009; Connery et al., 2010.

[6] Liberali, 2013, 2016.

[7] The schools authorize the use of their names.