Marc Angélil Editor
Rainer Hehl Editor, in collaboration with Something Fantastic
Ruby Press, Berlin, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
10.6 x 7.9 inches, paperback, 352 pages
ISBN: 9783944074023
Suggested Retail Price: $41.00

From the Publisher. Cidade de Deus serves as the inspiration and case study for Cidade de Deus – City of God—a widely relevant study of the appropriation and customization of standardized mass housing over time. The once-notorious favela in Rio de Janeiro, which grew out of a government-housing program, is today a safe and vibrant neighborhood and a viable counter model to gated condominiums. This research-based design study by the Master of Advanced Studies in Urban Design program at the ETH Zurich unpacks the implications of Cidade de Deus’s hybrid environment, as it exists today. What results is a model for improving mass housing programs using the ingenuity of informal practices—a model applicable not just in Brazil, but worldwide.

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Ames Gerould

The infamous City of God that many only know from the film of the same name has a history and explanation well beyond the film. Cidade de Deus! City Of God! is that explanation from an urban studies viewpoint. The Cidade de Deus was originally planned in the 1960s as a commuter suburb of Rio de Janeiro intended for 10,000 residents. The suburb ballooned almost immediately to a population of 40,000 within the same boundaries that demarcated the original land. In the 1980s Brazil fell onto hard times and the suburb went through a massive transformation linked tocrime and the drug trade.

What was usually never covered by many popular studies of Brazil’s favela phenomenon were its successes. Predictably, attention was devoted only to its hardships, downfalls, and drug violence. Cidade de Deus! explains the many points and the reasons for its various transformations. The policies implemented are written about. The way residents chose to adapt structures and land use are photographed. The politics that have been at play are illustrated. The resources at hand are mapped. The opportunities available to the population of the City of God are diagrammed. All of these variables are richly illustrated throughout the book end to end. The book calls to mind the title of a 2010 book, Atlas of the Conflict by Malkit Shoshan in its use of infographics and maps.

Standardized mass housing was always an experiment but was it always really a failure as it is commonly regarded?

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