Categoria: Ciências sociais aplicadas: Arquitetura Imprimir Email


Aécio Flávio de Souza Lacerda Júnior

Edite Galote Carranza

Luis Octavio P. L. de Faria e Silva

 Jardim Edith. Foto: Aécio Flávio Lacerda JúniorJardim Edith. Foto: Aécio Flávio Lacerda Júnior



The objective of this work is to present and reflect on the design process of the Jardim Edith Housing Set, located in the southern region of the city of São Paulo, built to relocate residents of the favela of the same name, removed due to a series of urban transformations occurred along with it . Starting from a master's research and reflections, the article intends to discuss that project process in the face of the prospect of the possibility of utopias: a proclaimed social Utopia of the so-called Modern Movement in architecture and urbanism, Utopia of full participatory democracy and Utopia of social sustainability, since the materialized result guaranteed the right to the city for some families of the community of the former favela, in the sense of remaining in an area with access to infrastructure networks and urban equipment.

Keywords: Housing of Social Interest; Utopia; Contemporary architecture; Paulista Architecture; Jardim Edith.



O objetivo deste trabalho é apresentar e refletir sobre o processo de projeto do Conjunto Habitacional Jardim Edith, localizado na região sul da cidade de São Paulo, construído para realocar moradores da favela de mesmo nome, removida em função de uma série de transformações urbanas junto a ela ocorridas. Tendo como ponto de partida uma pesquisa desenvolvida no âmbito de um trabalho de mestrado, o artigo pretende discutir aquele processo de projeto face à perspectiva da possibilidade de concretização de utopias: uma apregoada Utopia social   Movimento Moderno na arquitetura e no urbanismo, Utopia da plena democracia participativa e Utopia da sustentabilidade social, já que o resultado materializado garantiu o direito à cidade para algumas famílias da comunidade da antiga favela, no sentido de permanecerem em área com acesso a redes de infraestrutura e equipamentos urbanos.

Palavras chave: Habitação de Interesse Social; Utopia; Arquitetura Contemporânea, Arquitetura Paulista; Jardim Edith.



El objetivo de este trabajo es presentar y reflexionar sobre el proceso de proyecto del Conjunto Habitacional Jardim Edith, ubicado en la región sur de la ciudad de São Paulo, construido para reubicar a los habitantes de la favela del mismo nombre, removida en función de una serie de transformaciones urbanas junto a que se han producido. Con el punto de partida de una investigación desarrollada en el marco de un trabajo de maestría, el artículo pretende discutir ese proceso de proyecto frente a la perspectiva de la posibilidad de concreción de utopías: una pregonada Utopía social del llamado Movimiento Moderno en la arquitectura y el urbanismo, Utopía de la utopía la plena democracia participativa y la Utopía de la sostenibilidad social, ya que el resultado materializado garantizó el derecho a la ciudad para algunas familias de la comunidad de la antigua favela, en el sentido de permanecer en área con acceso a redes de infraestructura y equipamientos urbanos.

Palabras clave: Vivienda de Interés Social; utopía; Arquitectura Contemporánea, Arquitectura Paulista; Jardín Edith.



This article is dedicated to the process which resulted in the building of a Housing Project promoted by city of São Paulo, what went against the city practice of removing favelas for the opening of high capacity transit ways, by real estate and gentrification pressure. About these removals, the Jardim Edith favela stood out for the fight of some of its residents to stay in the origin place, resulting in a process that lasted for 10 years. This process ended with the building of the Jardim Edith Housing Project for a small number of the old residents who believed it was possible to live where the favela was built.

The development of Housing Projects in Brazil is not, in general, made from projects in which all these possible instruments are used. What is commonly seen are equal buildings, like "stamps", that are built in the lands without an effective thinking of its interaction with the urban context and of its free spaces of collective use. In this discouraging picture, projects developed by the São Paulo’s City Hall during the period in which the Jardim Edith Housing Project was built represented honorable exceptions in the Brazilian panorama.

The discussion proposed here is about how the Jardim Edith Housing Project follows the Modernism's utopian ideals anachronistically according to the catalysts of the Modern Architecture International Congress in the 20th century. In the planning of that Housing Project, not all families removed from the favelas were attended and, in this sense, there is a paradox, since the modernist ideals highlight housing for all people and the result is way below what was expected. To some extent, it is possible to think about Manfredo Tafuri’s provocation when he says that people are frequently facing “impotent and ineffective myths, […] mirages that allow the survival of “anachronistic projective hopes" (TAFURI, 1985, p. 122)

In the first part of this text, some reference authors to the Utopia discussion are remembered and some of their definitions are applied. This way, the goal is to identify key ideas and even insinuate a certain synthesis of those to understand the urban transformation process, which culminates in the delivery of the Jardim Edith Housing Project to some residents of the removed favela. The expectation is a debate about the relevance of the Housing Project, paradoxically, as a concretization of utopia, in Herbert Marcuse’s sense; that is, something possible but still not made.

The author used here as reference also brings the idea of Utopia as a goal, or horizon, background or fuel to many human actions. This way, Utopias would be unattainable. Talking about concrete Utopia results in a contradiction or paradox, proposed as a provocation in face of an equally paradoxical situation such as the reduced service of new houses for the Jardim Edith favela residents, who, in most part, received a compensation to leave their houses or were relocated to distant housing projects. Only a small number of families was contemplated with the perspective of staying next to their original address, and that thanks to the persistence and dedication of the leadership represented by Mr. Gerôncio Henrique Neto. He will be mentioned in this text and might be object of a specific observation, given his importance in the process and for being a clarifying example of the appearance and positions of leaders in the housing movements in São Paulo. These social movements arose during the redemocratization process in Brazil, and especially after the enactment of the called Civic Constitution, Brazilian Magna Carta of 1988.

The second part of this article a course brings the transformations verified in the surroundings of the Jardim Edith Housing Project, that has in its construction a sort of key.

Some of the intense transformations that have been happening in São Paulo's south zone are enunciated and something about their development is presented. The news collected here are the basis for the reflection about what is going to be referred as contradictions or paradoxes. The effects of building a Housing Project of undeniable architectonic quality for a small number of residents of the systematically removed ,favela in a process of materialization of a built housing project that evokes visions of both the 19th century's Utopias and the modernist urban structures of the 20th century.

Afterwards, there is a short reading of the Jardim Edith Housing Project of its project decisions and qualities related to the shape/space relations observed on it. Those are the parameters for the analytical observation of the buildings in the perspective of the architect’s usual background, something that shows another contradiction since, something that spells out another contradiction, by focusing on the necessary consideration about the qualities of the built object, the understanding of the urban transformation movement that generated it goes to a secondary level .


“I do not think about the utopia as an unlikely ideal. It is an absolute condition of realism. We will be necessarily utopian and realistic, or reactionary. And will defend our propositions strongly, because they will not be exclusive and objectively ours, but society's as a set and will represent its dynamic and renewing strengths.” Joaquim Guedes (GUEDES, 1977, p.187)

During the period of deep socioeconomic and cultural alterations resulting of the Industrial Revolution, the first said utopian proposals arose to fight the urban worker’s housing problem, such as François-Charles Fourier’s Phalanstery (1772-1837).

As a critic of the liberal capitalist society, Fourier idealized a visionary proposal that would address the degrading and unhealthy conditions of the workers' houses: the Phalanstery. It would be some kind of communitarian palace, with separated zones for functions such as: 1) noise zones for children, parties and other noisy occupations such as the kitchen; 2) tranquility zone for resting, meditation and studies; 3) special zones with rooms called seristère, planned to host meetings of the members of the many 'areas'" (KONDER, 1998, p.38). According to Fourier, the western society would be then living the period name Civilization and should evolve to a superior condition: the “garantismo” – what would allow human beings to conquer rights and protective guarantees to reach fullness in the harmonic stage of full cooperativism. Fourier’s ideas inspired industrial Jean- Baptiste Godin in the materialization of the 1870’s Familistère complex (BENEVOLO, 1983, p. 568).

François-Charles Fourier, Claude Henri de Rouvroy (known as Earl of Saint-Simon) (1760-1825) and Robert Owen (1771-1858), classified as utopian socialists by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), believed to be possible the full social transformation “without the recognition of the need of class conflict and of the revolutionary role of the proletariat in the making of this transition” (BOTTOMORE, 2012, p.502). According to Bottomore, the scientific Marxists (Marx and Engels), on the contrary, wanted to distance from the supposed egalitarian fantasies of the utopians and defended that the solution for the worker house problem would only be possible with the Social Revolution and the seizure of power by the working class.

Therefore, for the scientific Marxists, the labeling of utopian socialist has a fantasy connotation. It is worth remembering that the word Utopia was first used in 1516 by English writer Thomas More (1480-1535), from Greek words (gr. or: denying, tops: place) to describe the imaginary country: the “Island of Utopia”, that would be England’s antipode. Later, literary and movie works of dystopian character (in which there is an inversion of the utopia, a reactive projection opposed to the utopian uplifting vision) discussed the industrial society, such as the novel “The Time Machine”, of 1895, by H. G. Wells (1866-1946) and the movie “Metropolis", of 1927, by Fritz Lang (1890-1976).

The Utopia became a concept discussed by sociology as well as in fictional. The sociologist Karl Mannheim (1893-1947), in his book Ideology and Utopia: an introduction to the sociology of knowledge, of 1929, explains that there is a clear distinction between the ideological thinking - which is about a hypothetical version of the extant reality -, and the utopian thinking, that desires some other kind of society. For him, the followers of the utopian thinking are not entirely worried about what really exists and are actually in search of changing the extant situation. In his words: “In the utopian mentality, the collective unconscious, guided by the tendentious representation and will of action, hides some aspects of reality. It turns its back to everything that could shake ones belief or paralyze one’s desire to change things” (Mannheim, 1976: 66-67). According to the sociologist Tom Bottomore (1920-92), in the 20th century the utopian thinking can be found in the architecture and urban planning fields (BOTTOMORE, 2012, p.788).

The utopian thinking in Mannheim’s terms would be presented at the first stages of the Modern Movement in architecture and urbanism. According to Anatole Kopp (1915-1990), differently from most part of his coworkers, who considers the working gratification as being the conquer of money and fame, gratification would be, for the pioneers of the Modern Movement, placing one’s knowledge, talent and enthusiasm at the service of one cause: the social Utopia (KOPP, 1990, p.24).

Pioneer architects of the Modern Movement, by ideological or utopian convictions, believed to be possible to change society from discipline. So, proposals that questioned traditionally defined habits, such as Hermann Muthesius’ collective kitchens, member of the Deutscher Werkbund, in 1908 (KOPP, 1990, p.39), started to arise. This and other proposals were discussed in the Modern Architecture International Congresses.

The thematic around the “minimum housing” to urban workers was discussed at the 2nd Modern Architecture International Congress of 1929, in Frankfurt - Germany. Solutions developed in several countries were presented, pointing to a “kind of sociocultural internationalization of housing problems" (KOPP, 1990, p.53), or to a new housing culture. The German architects were expressively present at the event and, in most part, were socialists or worked for progressive administrations (BRUNA, 2010, p. 46). While formulating the theme “Housing for a minimum of life”, the architect Ernst May (1886-1970) also defined what would be the modern architect’s commitment: “[...] architects of the new architecture unite without nationally distinction, by their compassion for needy people. We cannot imagine them without social consciousness and are able to say that they are involved in putting the social considerations in the front seat of the new architecture". (in KOPP, 1990, p.46).

In the 3rd Modern Architecture International Congress, of 1930, in Brussels, the theme “Constructive Rational Methods" was presented and discussions were about the verticalization of buildings. Le Corbusier, one of the congress’ main characters, defended the “La Ville Radieuse” thesis, cities with tall and high-density buildings. In his words: “with effect, the solution is in giving height to the building in order to guarantee free lands on its surroundings, [something that would be possible] with the use of the American lifter, solution adopted in New York" (Le Corbusier, 1933: 82-83). Le Corbusier’s ideas were materialized years later at Unité d'Habitation in Marseille (1947-1952), a self-sufficient Housing Project of big dimensions (140 meters long, 24 meters large and 56 meters tall), on pilotis, with 18 floors and a program that contemplates different uses, in which besides the housing units, there are independent areas destined to commerce and services. Le Corbusier’s conception influenced generations of modern architects and, at some extent, it is a reference to the Jardim Edith Housing Project architects, in São Paulo.

Another main character of the 3rd Modern Architecture International Congress of, Walter Gropius, in his lecture "Low, Mid- or High-Rise Building?”, also defends the verticalization of housing buildings as economical and rational, that attend the psychological and social needs of housing (BRUNA, 2010, p.55). The Modern Movement’s ideas and ideals were materialized in large housing projects in European countries and in the USA in the post-war, becoming a model to other countries.

However, the proposals to address the industrial society needs started to be questioned with the establishment of the post-industrial society, that has as mark the year 1956, when the number of workers in administrative jobs increased and became higher than the one of industrial workers in the USA (DE MASI, 2000, p.19). Sociologists claim that there was a cultural crisis of the industrially advanced societies, what favored the arousal of questionings around the status quo, new utopias, ecotopia, and counterculture.

Philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), member of the Frankfurt School, analyzed the social transformations of mid-20th century in One-Dimensional Man: studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, of 1964 (published in Brazil in 1967). According to him, contrary to the old and historical practices of domination by hunger, personal dependence and force, in the one-dimensional society there are new forms of domination that had been transfigured in what was referred as Administration. Therefore, workers are transformed into an instrument, as something inside the production system and, contradictorily, identify with the existence imposed to them thanks to the seduction by the merchandise which scientifically conquers men (MARCUSE, 1967, p.19). Marcuse defends that, even though the Utopia historically refers to dreams and social transformation projects whose realization is considered impossible thanks to the impossibility to translate in concrete facts or project of a new society, only projects that are contradictory to the truly determined or determinable scientific laws would be utopian. Therefore, Marcuse defends the Utopia as something possible but not made yet:

The criteria which determines that the absence of certain subjective and objective factors is a proof of the impossibility to realize a certain transformation is, thus, very debatable [...] there are today all material and intellectual forces needed to the realization of a free society. The fact that they are not used must be attributed exclusively to a sort of general mobilization of society that resists with all means to the eventuality of its own freedom. But this circumstance is not enough, in no way, to make the transformation project become utopian. In the indicated sense, what is possible is the elimination of poverty and misery, of the alienated labor, and of what I have called surplus repression. (MARCUSE, 1969, p. 16)

With the establishment of the post-industrial society, the city began to be studied from different angles in which "the family and communitarian institutions, supported in physical and social infrastructures related to housing, health assistance, education and cultural life, have assumed a key role, sponsored by the local public power" (BOTTOMORE, 2012, p.594). Utopias would be, according to this sociological thinking, experiences that precede transformations, such as the experiences of counterculture communities, who seeks for a society in which men and nature could finally live in harmony (OUTHWAITE; BOTTOMORE, 1996, p.789).

This sociological perspective was adopted by journalist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a 1961 book with critics to the modernist planning. According to philosopher Marshall Berman’s (1940-2013) analysis, Jane Jacobs was Robert Moses’ (1888-1981) biggest antagonist, as well as of his urban policy that ruined full blocks and “which buildings had a destructive and disastrous impact” (BERMAN, 1986, p.274). For urbanist Peter Hall (1932-2017), who supports Berman’s critic opinion, Robert Moses was America’s greatest apartment builder for associating two qualities: the belief of the downward planning and the discovery that political connections were also important (HALL, 2013, p. 269). About the Londoner housing projects that followed Le Corbusier’s model in a logic comparable to the New York transformation made by Moses, Peter Hall states that they were “authentic disasters in a matter of project, […] spread all over England” (HALL, 2013, p.265). For Hall, the cause of the proposals’ failure was the cultural shock, in his words: “the fact that the projectors, who came from the upper class, showed themselves to be totally insensible to the lifestyle of a working family” (HALL, 2013, p.270). However, the critic to the Modern Movement in architecture and urbanism was made by Manfredo Tafuri (1935-1994).

Tafuri, as representative of the western Marxism, changed the emphasis of the historical materialism and political economy to the culture, philosophy and art fields – in his case, architecture and urbanism -, and to the great thinkers such as Gyorgy Lukács, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse and Walter Benjamin. It is possible to say that Tafuri’s Critical Theory shares the other western Marxists’ opinion, which is that the intellectuals have a key role in the social transformations (BOTTOMORE, 2012, p. 371). Yet, Tafuri argues about the architects:

For the architects, the discovery of their decline as active ideologues, the finding of various technological possibilities to rationalize cities and territories, along with the daily conclusion of its dissipation, and the aging of the specific projecting methods, even before being able to verify the hypothesis in reality, generate an anxiety environment and make possible the arousal of a much more concrete and feared panorama: the downfall of the architect’s “professionalism" and insertion, already without late humanistic obstacles, in programs in which the architecture’s ideological role is minimum.

The fact of a new professional situation, already extant in advanced capitalist countries, being feared by architects and repealed by the most neurotic formal and ideological contortions, is just a sign of the political retrograde character of this intellectual group (TAFURI, 1985, p.120).

Tafuri, while analyzing the historical vanguards – in architecture and urbanism -, affirms that, even though they have innate utopian leavings of the vanguards' poetics, they have a margin of "a fundamental utopia to the goals of production reorganization intended to achieve" (TAFURI, 1985, p.68), even though the matter of production dynamics is not the focus of the renovation. Thus, there would be a contradiction between utopia and ideology of what he calls “Plan" - political and economic status quo. According to him:

architecture is situated halfway in between realism and utopia. The utopia lies in its obstinacy in hiding that the planning ideology is only possible to be realized in buildings if it indicates that is outside it that the real Plan can be shaped. Or, that once the architecture and urbanism join the horizon of production reorganization, they will be objects and not agents of the Plan (Tafuri, 1985: 68).

Later on, Tafuri reveals the crisis of Modern Architecture crisis:

It is now confirmed our first hypothesis. The architecture as the Plan’s ideology is subverted by the Plan’s reality once that, having surpassed the utopia level, it becomes an operant mechanism. The modern architecture crisis starts in the moment in which its natural receiver – the great industrial capital – surpasses its background ideology, putting the superstructures aside. From this moment, the architectonic ideology sees its own goals out. The obstinacy to see its hypothesis accomplished makes it become either an incentive for the overcoming of retrograde realities, or a troubling perturbation (Tafuri, 1985: 92).

While concluding the discussion about the Utopia concept, it would also be possible to reflect about possible alternatives of urban worlds for the 21th century, following David Harvey's questionings: “Could we afford not being utopian? Will the consideration of a utopian tradition be able to reveal a visionary path to inform our perspectives possibilities and call social movements to some alternative, and different visions of the city?” (HARVEY, 2013, p. 32).

The Jardim Edith Housing Project, as will be observed, followed precepts of the Modern Movement’s social utopias -, and of the Participative Democracy perspective, in order to shape a due to a talk with residents mediated by the government, to achieve something possible, but not yet accomplished. Even though its final result can be seen as an incomplete Utopia and, it is a unique Brazilian experience of Social Interest Housing, which sought a path of social and spatial equity in the city of São Paulo.

The city that invaded the favela

Favelas barely existed in São Paulo until the 40’s and 50’s, but started to grow exponentially since the 70’s, a period in which the city went through a huge social and economic transformation (KEHL, 2010, p.55). About the location of favelas n in the city of São Paulo, Luiz Kehl describes:

“ São Paulo’s favelas are mainly concentrated in the south and north zones, precisely on environmental protection areas: next to the Guarapiranga and Billings dams, in the south, and by the slopes of the Serra da Cantareira, in the north, […] Half of the favelas is bordered by streams, and there is at least one quarter of houses in risk of being taken by flash floods. (KEHL, 2010, p. 56).

The Jardim Edith favela (pic.1) was built during the so called Brazilian Economic Miracle (when there were high annual economic growth rates – there will be no discussion about its causes or consequences) in the 70’s, when the city of São Paulo had a growth rate around 3%, which was high, but much smaller than the growth rate of its favelas, around 20.16%. São Paulo’s favelas occupied slopes, watercourse borders, mangrove areas and river floodplains - such as Jardim Edith, in the Pinheiros river floodplain - becoming an urban problem in the next decades (KEHL, 2010, p.55). As a consequence of the housing deficit at that time, in the right border of the Pinheiros river’s channel, resulting of its rectification, drained area of the old floodplain, started the Jardim Edith favela construction, that once occupied a 68 thousand square meters area and housed a population of three thousand families (FIX, 2001,p.37).

Note: Aerial view before the Jardim Edith was established – Source:  Geoportal. Picture 1. Berrini (1958), adapted by the authors.Note: Aerial view before the Jardim Edith was established – Source: Geoportal. Picture 1. Berrini (1958), adapted by the authors.

Between 1974 and 1976, Bratke-Collet, developer and construction company, bought 30 lands in the region near the Pinheiros river, specially in the Brooklin district (FRÚGOLI JR., 2000, p. 177). During the 70’s, the occupation process was intense in the south zone district: in one side, new office buildings (highlighting the Bratke-Collet company, great owner of lands in the region); in the other, occupation by families which could not be inserted in the city through the formal real estate market. Specially after 1975, the office buildings and its corporate workers who transformed the region started to attract investors to commerce and services, as well as improvements in the urban infrastructure. Job opportunities in the commerce, public buildings and the construction of new buildings in its surroundings have made possible to the Jardim Edith favela, by the margins of the Água Espraiada stream (Pinheiros river affluent), a housing opportunity for many families who went to the region because of job opportunities. In some decades, the favela reached big dimensions, while there was also an advance in real estate valuation that the pressed, with the city gradually invading the favela

(Pic. 2).

Note: Jardim Edith favela in its biggest extension, along with the office building, that advance into an intense verticalization process of the city - source:  FRÚGOLI JR. (2000, p. 258) | Authors’ intervention.  Picture 2 Jardim Edith Favela (1995)Note: Jardim Edith favela in its biggest extension, along with the office building, that advance into an intense verticalization process of the city - source: FRÚGOLI JR. (2000, p. 258) | Authors’ intervention. Picture 2 Jardim Edith Favela (1995)

The transformations in the region made the Avenida Água Espraiada project (where the favela was located Edith Garden) to be taken forward, and the prospect of removing part of that community was part of the work. Studies of economical feasibility viability of an avenue near the Água Espraiada stream were conduct during Mayor Jânio Quadros’s term (1985-1988) based on the 1964 Law of Improvements, in which an avenue in that location had already been planned. The proposal was redesigned to meet the conditions of the neighborhood, but nothing was done in that administration. The successor management, of the mayor Luiza Erundina (1989-1992) also revised the project. In 1990, the proposal was included in an Urban Operation (FIX, 2007, p.90), an urban instrument in which resources are raised by the Government because of payments by the market real estate to obtain greater construction coefficients, resources for infrastructure works and Social Interest Housing, through a Plan for the region.

The land originally occupied by the Jardim Edith favela originally covered almost the entire intersection of Engenheiro Luiz Carlos Berrini Avenue with the proposed Avenida Água Espraiada (later Journalist Roberto Marinho Avenue). This proposed area for the future crossing of roads was vacated and destined to the road system connecting the Marginal do Pinheiros River, via expressway along this watercourse, and construction of the Cable-stayed Bridge Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge Bridge(Fig.3). The changes in the design of Água Espraiada Avenue for that stretch next to Engenheiro Luiz Carlos Berrini Avenue, were carried out during many adminsitrations in São Paulo's City Hall, and constructed during Mayor Paulo Maluf's administration (1992-1996).

Note: Road opening and building of the  Cable-Stayed Bridge – DEC/2008 | source:  Google Earth | Authors’ intervention. Unoccupied area		Remaining area Picture 3. City’s advancement - Old area and remaining Jardim Edith I area (2008)Note: Road opening and building of the Cable-Stayed Bridge – DEC/2008 | source: Google Earth | Authors’ intervention. Unoccupied area Remaining area Picture 3. City’s advancement - Old area and remaining Jardim Edith I area (2008)

In 2003, the first project of the cable-stayed bridge Octávio Frias de Oliveira was availed during Mayor’s Marta Suplicy’s adminsitration (2001–2004) , but the high investment caused the project to be reconsidered, being resumed in 2005, in Mayor José Serra’s administration. The project’s update originated the existing bridge. The building was concluded in 2008, being inaugurated during mayor’s Gilberto Kassab’s administration (2009-2012).

With the inauguration of the cable-stayed bridge, the Jardim Edith favela gained more visibility for being located in an expensive and coveted region of São Paulo, exactly in the intersection of avenues Engenheiro Luiz Carlos Berrini and Jornalista Roberto Marinho (old Água Espraiada).

In a parallel dynamic of resistance, the right of the residents of the Jardim Edith (2009-2012) began to be effectively observed in 1995. A new community leader took over, Mr. Gerôncio Henrique Neto, and began to strive to open up the paths to guarantee the residents' right to remain in the remaining area that had not been vacated during the administration of Mayor Paulo Maluf. Mr. Gerôncio studied the legislation to understand the rights protected by the Constitution; he attended the União dos Movimentos de Moradia, a kind of umbrella for housing movements in São Paulo, especially since the country's re-democratization process in the 1980s. He participated in the Conferences for Dignified Housing, when he was instructed to formalize the Association of Residents of Jardim Edith. In 1996, with the opening of Avenida Água Espraiada, the favela suffered no further intervention and the region underwent a major transformation and land valuation. The situation of the residents of Jardim Edith remained unchanged until 2002, when a new perspective was opened due to the Bylaws of the City.

The few families that remained realized that it would be possible to conquer the right to remain in their place of origin through legal actions provided for in the Federal Constitution of 1988. Thus, still under Mayor Marta Suplicy’s adminsitration, with the strategic Master Plan (PDE) of 2002, Jardim Edith won the right to have area that it had occupied for more than forty years defined as a Special Zone of Social Interest - ZEIS (another urban instrument, which prevented the expulsion of the poor by real estate agents), for the promotion of Housing of Social Interest (HIS). The permanence of the Jardim Edith community was made possible by the change in the public authorities' view and the persistence of the community leader Mr. Gerôncio. He fought to guarantee the rights of the residents he represented, promoted by the Federal Constitution of 1988. The Jardim Edith Residential Complex was then built in the remaining area of ​​the favela, a change of parameters because it did not remove families to distant locations. This was a persistent attitude in the of social housing until recently. (Fig. 4).

To the Jardim Edith community, the project made easier the transition from “favela” to “formal housing”, in the development of the housing project's architectonic project composed by three towers with 17 floors and two horizontal slabs with 5 floors, and a base with public equipment: nursery, public medical centerCentercenter and a school-restaurant. The Project is in harmony with the region’s predominant landscape because of its proper and unusual architectonic solution, in contrast to the high level corporate buildings in its surroundings, projected in a land of approximately 19 thousand square meters (GOMES, 2013, p.2).

source: Google Earth | Author’s intervention. Picture 4 – Aerial view of the newly built Jardim Edith Housing Project – (2016).source: Google Earth | Author’s intervention. Picture 4 – Aerial view of the newly built Jardim Edith Housing Project – (2016).

Jardim Edith As Materialization Of The Modern Movement Utopias

The discussions in the Modern Architecture International Congresses were of extreme importance for the strengthening of the housing of social interest, and a certain social Utopia.

The themes discussed in the first three I Modern Architecture International Congresses of would complement each other: in the first meeting, the “Minimum Housing" project; in the second, the theme “The Minimum Housing Unit” highlighted the German presence, in most part socialists or working for progressive administrations (BRUNA, 2010, p.46).

The third brought the theme “Rational Constructive Methods" and discussions about the verticalization of the housing proposals, in which Le Corbusier had a position favorable to the tall and high-density buildings with elevators and high roads (Bruna, 2010: 54). Walter Gropius, in his lecture “Low, Mid- or High-Rise Building?”, also defended the verticalization of housing buildings as being economical and rational, including as well the psychological and social needs of housing (BRUNA, 2010, p.55).

Le Corbusier materialized ideals originated from those discussions in the Modern Architecture International Congresses of (an Utopia?) in 1952, with the "Unité d'Habitation in Marseille”, where he used five concepts of modern architecture developed in 1920, besides producing the housing units by modular proportions came from studies realized with the Modulor, in 1948. The project was made to shelter houses, services, commerce and leisure, organized in a vertical structure with 18 floors plus the roof, with private and collective spaces.

In Brazil, in the beginning of the so-called Vargas Era in 1930, in which the main character was president Getúlio Vargas, the Social Security Institutes were established, managed by social security organs of each working class, who hired the architects to design the housing buildings. Those became expressive models of the modern architecture, reflecting the themes debated in the first Modern Architecture International Congresses of and its ideals.

The Mendes de Morais Mayor Housing Project, popularly known as Pedregulho, is also an echo of those themes and thesis (Pic. 5). Concluded in 1952, in Rio de Janeiro, it is an example of the social modern architecture designed by architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy. Besides housing blocks, the building predicted installations for mechanic collective laundry, market, healthcare center, nursery, primary school, gymnasium, pool, club, playground and recreation (Bruna, 2010: 164). Suggestions from the meetings in the International Congresses of Modern Architecture.

Note: Contrast between the modern project and its surroundings, Rio de Janeiro. | Photo:  Authors, 2000.  Picture 5 -  Mendes de  Mayor Housing Project - PedregulhoNote: Contrast between the modern project and its surroundings, Rio de Janeiro. | Photo: Authors, 2000. Picture 5 - Mendes de Mayor Housing Project - Pedregulho

In São Paulo, the architects Vilanova Artigas, Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Flávio Penteado, designed the CECAP Zezinho Magalhães Prado Housing Project in 1967, in Guarulhos, following Le Corbusier‘s concepts: pilotis, free design of the ground plan and facade, and horizontal window, not using only the roof garden idea. Closed-in wall units were included in the project, something that would allow the area's enlargement and produce an interesting effect in the building's dimensions, besides helping the frames' protection.

“The project synthesized functionality and rationality concepts, as well as social democratic ideals that moved modern architects and urbanists […]. Created as a prototype, the Cecap attended a wide program with commerce, educational center, communitarian and health centers, stadium, green areas and housing units of 64 square meters, distributed in blocks of three floors on pilotis." (CARRANZA; CARRANZA, 2015, p.61).

The Jardim Edith Housing Project has characteristics that reminds the mentioned references, maybe for a supposed heritage left by the modernist architects, or even by Vilanova Artigas's legacy, who was a central character in the University of São Paulo’s School of Architecture, where all architects who developed the project here analyzed have a distinction wall of fame.

Figura 6 – Planta do CECAP Guarulhos. Desenho dos autoresFigura 6 – Planta do CECAP Guarulhos. Desenho dos autores


Note: Standard blueprint of the two-bedroom housing units | source: SEHAB (file DWG) – Adapted by author. Picture 6 – Jardim Edith Project (Towers 1, 2 and 3)Note: Standard blueprint of the two-bedroom housing units | source: SEHAB (file DWG) – Adapted by author. Picture 6 – Jardim Edith Project (Towers 1, 2 and 3)

Note: Blueprints of the two-bedroom and duplex housing units | source: SEHAB (file DWG) – Adapted by authors. Picture 7 – Jardim Edith Project (Laminas 1 and 2)Note: Blueprints of the two-bedroom and duplex housing units | source: SEHAB (file DWG) – Adapted by authors. Picture 7 – Jardim Edith Project (Laminas 1 and 2)

The São Paulo architecture offices MMBB and H+F worked together in the Jardim Edith Housing Project, in which there was a search for solutions for the integration of the programs: housing, social equipment and education. The diversity of 50 square meters housing units resulted in different units, with some adaptations depending on the families’ needs (Pic.6 and 7). The adaptations are not visible from the outside, what provides a dimensional and esthetical unity, especially because of the closed-in wall units, such as the ones in the Guarulhos' CECAP, that enlarge the unit's area and work as facade elements providing an interesting effect (Pic.8 and 9).

Note: Volumetric composition of the housing project | source: MMBB Arquitetos | Authors’ intervention. Picture 8 – Jardim Edith Housing ProjectNote: Volumetric composition of the housing project | source: MMBB Arquitetos | Authors’ intervention. Picture 8 – Jardim Edith Housing Project

The buildings provides a direct contact with the street, since the buildings’ decrements, not closed with grids or walls, enlarge the walks and provide an important improvement in public spaces. The Housing Project’s public equipment also causes the ground floor to have a constant flow of people, what guarantees a vibration in its surroundings and the possibility of a certain social control. Another point was the verticalization and insertion of elevators to attend the 17 floors. This decision caused the Housing Project to copy its surrounding, composed of tall commercial buildings, and not be an exception in the landscape which could lead isolation, thanks to its design and careful treatment and social architecture.
source:  H+F Arquitetos | Authors’ intervention. Picture 9 – Jardim Edith Housing Project’s implantationsource: H+F Arquitetos | Authors’ intervention. Picture 9 – Jardim Edith Housing Project’s implantation

source:  H+F Arquitetos | Authors’ intervention. Picture 10 – Jardim Edith Housing Project’s cutsource: H+F Arquitetos | Authors’ intervention. Picture 10 – Jardim Edith Housing Project’s cut

The Jardim Edith Housing Project represents a change and consolidates, after years, architecture that cares about the project quality when it comes to its use by future residents (Pic.10).

This way, the project can be considered a reference that promoted changes which go against the usual practice when it comes to popular housing projects. In addition, a product of the actions made by the Jardim Edith residents, who sensitized the local Public Power, the housing project shows an alternative for the expulsion of the population to the outskirts of the city and presents a new path.


It is possible to say, besides the paradoxes the materialization of the Jardim Edith Housing Project was a resistance, at some extent, to the practice of transferring the favela population to somewhere strange and distant. This practice was adopted by the government for many years and contributed to the formation of dormitory districts - a sort of excluding-peripheral-social-ghetto – of the said formal city. In this sense, it was given to part of the poorer population of the old Jardim Edith community the right to the formal city, with no distinction or hierarchy when it comes to the architecture's quality or the place that occupies in the city. In this sense, the Jardim Edith Housing Project is fully inserted in the city’s urban fabric, since there is an architectonic quality in it that corresponds (or, to some extent, is even superior) to what is seen in the buildings around it.

In some way, in function of what was resolved in this article, it is possible to say that the Jardim Edith Housing Project brought to life the Modern Movement's social Utopia, for having the perceptible desire of another kind of Society (Mannheim). On the other hand, and somehow due to it, it is reaffirmed in its project process the practice of eliminating from the urban fabric the organic form found in the favela.

It is important to reinforce that the Jardim Edith Housing Project concretization was possible mainly thanks to the perseverance and determination of a communitarian leader, Mr. Gerôncio, who believed that the favela residents should remain in their places, and that personified a vital resistance that echoed in the favorable historical moment which arose with the country's redemocratization and the 1988 Constitution, a fundamental regulation mark in what refers to the right to live in a city of the favelas' residents in general.

However, at the end of the long process that ended with the building of the Jardim Edith Housing Project, only 252 families of the old favela’s original population (that once housed almost 3,000 families) earned housing units. Considering that, the paradoxes and fragilities of the result in social terms are evident. It was not fully achieved in function of the social-economic-environmental triangle which assures a sustainable condition.


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About the authors:

Professor at the Architecture and Urbanism course in the Graduation program in Architecture and Urbanism at the São Judas Tadeu University, São Paulo. Ph.D. from the University of São Paulo’s School of Architecture and Urbanism (2013). M.A. from Mackenzie Presbyterian Institute (2004). B.A. in Architecture and Urbanism from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University School of Architecture (1991). She works in the fields of São Paulo’s architecture history, and architectonic project and drawing, with two textbooks published: “Representation Scales in Architecture" and “Constructive Details of Architecture”. Member of the magazine Arq. Urb.’s editorial board. Member of the Research Group CNPQ? Architecture: Alternative and Transdisciplinary Approaches in the Contemporary Condition. Member Executive Director of the architecture office and publishing G&C Arquitectônica Ltda since 1998, where she develops projects in architecture, corporate architecture and editorial projects; editor of the Electronic journal 5% Arquitetura + Arte ISSN 1808-1142, since 2005; editor of the Facebook page 5% Arquitetura + Arte, since 2015.


Architecture Luis Octavio P. L. de Faria e Silva, P.h.D. University of São Paulo’s School of Architecture and Urbanism 2008, São Judas Tadeu University, School City Association. Praça Benedito Calixto, 86 apto 12, Pinheiros, São Paulo, phone (55 11) 996393153

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Aécio Flávio de Souza Lacerda Júnior M.A. in Architecture and Urbanism by São Judas Tadeu University (2016) and professor at the Nove de Julho University.<0}

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How to cite:
LACERDA JÚNIOR, Aécio Flávio S.; CARRANZA, Edite Galote; SILVA, Luís Octávio. Jardim Edith: Project and Utopias. 5% Arquitetura + Arte, São Paulo, ano 14, v.01, n.17, e102, p. 102.1- 102.20, jan./ jun. 2019. Available at: http://revista5.arquitetonica.com/index.php/periodico-1/ciencias-sociais-aplicadas/jardim-edith-projeto-e-utopias-2
English translation by:
Caroline Parente Cardelino
M.A. Nívia Maria Rodrigues Fernandes Marcello
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