In 2009 a Swiss architect, Christian Kerez, started to study the phenomena of favela and its high spatial and social value. He concluded that, despite of general negative picture which is an outcome rather from extreme social exclusion than intended isolation and degradation, focusing on evaluation and implementation of valuable aspects of informal settlement could be an approach to deal with problematics of density in developing countries like Brazil.
He created a set of ground floors that might be combined together and are connected with a network of staircases, semi-private squares and walking paths. Their composition is not accidental – each combination in deeply thought-through and well linked between each other. Every unit has a separate entrance, approachable directly from the street level. Kerez also provided the gardening level to add a calming element to the space and to create additional, visual quality to shared public squares.
The most experimental element of the project is a complex communication pattern. As the site of Paraisopolis is very steep, there emerged a problem of approaching some of the higher dwellings from the level of public areas. As an answer the concept of stairways network was introduced, where “the structure follows the movement of the stairs” (Narigon, 2013). “The most boring thing (..) is in a high-rise is the stair, because it is always the same. Each floor, just turning in circles like a screwdriver. We thought walking up in a building would actually be an interesting experience if you could go on a cascading stair from one facade to another and back. The stair is not a prisoner of the structure”. (Kerez, 2013)
The project, although very innovative and experimental, fills into the context of the surroundings, giving a completely different perspective of perceiving the informal settlements. It learns and profits from the existing urban pattern, but on the other hand give also a direction of how the excluded space could be discerned in a new, more tolerant way.