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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 2.123

Building the incremental city: storage and reuse of construction waste in brazilian favelas



Primary authors


The seeming disrepair of informal settlements hides the complex temporalities of construction processes, waste management challenges and a thriving economy relying on waste collection, storage and resell. Different types of waste (household trash, block party litter, rubble, discarded furniture) relies on specific economic and social networks that dispose, store and reuse what can either be seen as rubbish or resource by specific actors, such as self-help builders, waste collectors or scrapyard owners. Through an ethnographic and architectural survey of self-help households in Paraisópolis, the second biggest favela in São Paulo (Brazil), this paper explores the waste storage tactics and strategies used by dwellers that uncover the incremental building processes of informal urbanism. An inventory of storage spaces and gathered elements and their localization shows how storage constraints lead to conflicts and negotiations between neighbors and shape how self-help buildings are designed. Construction waste can in some cases become a building implement (scaffolding, forms, shuttering) or a construction material – as a temporary step to consolidation or a permanent low-income building solution. This undefined state of waiting-to-be-reused elements blurs the boundaries between waste and resource and establishes the aeshetics of the incremental. As a permanent construction site, the favela turns out to be a rapidly evolving neighborhood able to adapt to an ever-increasing housing demand, whose social and ecological challenges can be addressed by relying on existing recycling networks and processes.