Less than a month ago, a trio of Master’s students at Aalborg University in Denmark created a buzz in architectural circles with the release of a series of images from their thesis project. Titled ‘Favela Cloud’, the project addresses slum settlements in the developing world, casting them in a new light: not just as a problem to be solved, but also as a potentially valuable model for community living.
Whilst recognising the need to develop substandard housing into better regulated and more livable dwellings, the scheme also allows for the tendency towards ad-hoc organization, and the constant processes of addition, subtraction and reconfiguration which characterise informal settlements the world over.
According to the architects:
“The design proposes an alternative way of developing the built environment, drawing on the social and organizational qualities of the favela itself. Based on the self-organization logic, the proposal exhibits an additive system that can grow and adapt to its site conditions, hovering above buildings and vegetation to utilize the existing paths and openings of the site.”
The images below, taken from the website of one of the designers, show a strikingly original vision for the favela Santa Marta in Rio, incorporating elements of biomorphic design and generous allocations of unstructured public space. It’s a bold move by a group of architects at the early stages of their career, and just the kind of creative thinking needed to tackle the huge pressures on housing caused by spiraling population growth in the world’s megacities.
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