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10,000 metre-square unified educational centre opened with the capacity to serve 2,800 students, and at the same time, the well-known furniture and appliances superstore retailer Casa Bahia opened a store — the first to be opened in a favela. The founder CEO of Casa Bahia, however, known as the Home Appliance King, lives in the exclusive fortified enclave, Alphaville, travelling to and from work, allegedly, by private helicopter. A second phase, started in 2008, is investing another US $127 million for continued land stabilization and the construction of additional new housing complexes. In March 2008, international delegations of urban planners from Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia visited several slums of São Paulo, including Paraisópolis. They praised the infrastructure and upgrading work, describing it as ‘outstanding’ and ‘incomparable’ to other projects they had seen around the world. Residents of the celebrated favela may be surprised to hear such praise as they continue to struggle for survival in living conditions so different from the apartments that surround them. Such stark differences lead some to conclude that slum upgrading is inappropriate. Erminia Maricato, professor of architecture and urbanism in São Paulo and former vice minister in the Ministry of Cities told UN-HABITAT slum upgrading was ‘not sustainable’. Others predict the inevitable purchase of well-positioned favela land by the middle classes. As Alejandra Maria Devecchi, director of the Department of Environmental Planning in São Paulo, told UN-HABITAT, ‘In a couple of decades, Paraisópolis will be bought up by the elite’. Nevertheless, the last five years have seen substantial changes that are ongoing and may well change Paraisópolis from a favela into an urbanised neighbourhood. Are there limits to slum upgrading? Will the future Paraisópolis of São Paulo be a desirable ‘neighbourhood’ or ‘community’, fully integrated with the formal city, or will it be a refurbished but excluded, or isolated, enclave economically and socially divided from its neighbours? Such questions are at the very heart of debates about housing and inclusive cities in Brazil and around the world. Sources: Paraisópolis: Lots in Paraisópolis are exchanged for debt relief for property tax. (2006, 3 December). Retrieved from: prefeitura.sp.gov. br USAID. (2009). Transforming electricity consumers into customers: Case study of a slum electrification and loss reduction project in São Paulo, Brazil. Retrieved from: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/ PNADO642.pdf Image: Christopher Horwood

Examples of infrastructure, as part of upgrading in Favela Paraisópolis

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Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

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