The newly unveiled global urban news website Citiscope has one of it’s first pieces on slum upgrading in São Paulo, Brazil. Writers Fernando Serpone Bueno and Veridiana Sedeh provide a nice overview of the multi-faceted efforts to improve the living conditions of people in the favelas, such as providing sanitary and drainage facilities, granting property rights, building streets and schools, setting building guidelines for flooding — and creating new parks.
Close to a third of São Paulo city’s 11 million people live in slum-like conditions. The housing in these areas was built without much regard to providing any common areas set aside for public use or for flood protection, and they are quite dense with few recreational amenities. By relocating some residents, such as those who live in a flood plain, the city is able to provide better community public spaces for those who remain:
São Paulo is consciously seeking to recycle city areas left by relocated families into such common spaces as parks, playgrounds, soccer fields and skate parks — ways to help people socialize and build a sense of citizenship for remaining residents.
Here in the U.S., we often talk about providing parks to those living in “underserved” areas. On a global level, this issue is no different, and improvements to the public realm are integral to upgrading slums into livable urban neighborhoods.