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guarded schools and enjoy afternoon sports on fenced-in fields watched over by Alphaville’s black-clad security guards. At night, on “TV Alphaville”, residents can view their maids going home for the evening, when all exiting employees are patted down and searched in front of a live video feed. The local gym, which specializes in self-defense classes, is called CIA. To enter the local shopping centre, customers must first pass through a guarded gate’. The success of Alphaville has led to Alphaville Urbanism expanding its developments to several other cities in Brazil, where approximately one million people are now estimated to live in purpose-built, closed condominiums or fortified mini-city developments. There are more than 100 such developments in São Paulo itself, and the market’s appetite for more ‘condominios fechados’, for the few who can afford them, is only growing. While the authorities seek ways to make São Paulo a more inclusive city, the wealthy are voting with their feet — or perhaps, with their choppers — to increase their own sense of well-being. According to many people interviewed for this research, the middle class are the most antagonistic to inclusive policies when they directly affect their own residential areas. ‘Brazilians become animals when their house value drops’, Erminia Maricato, professor of architecture and urbanism in São Paulo and former vice minister in the Ministry of Cities, told UN-HABITAT. Nadia Somekh, an architect and high-profile city planner, emphasized that ‘the gated community is anti-city. It is opposed to inclusive heterogeneous melding and instead becomes a self-exiled, homogenous non-inclusive enclave of exclusivity’. The story is not only one of polarized wealth and poverty, however. The strategy of developing ‘condominios fechados’ is expanding, and the gated-community pattern is now being applied to communities for everyone from the lowermiddle class to the very rich. Gated real estate promises a ‘secure’ life in in neighbourhoods all over the city. It is no longer a phenomenon restricted only to the very rich. Sources: Caldeira, T. (1999). Fortified enclaves: The new urban segregation. In S.M. Low (Ed.) Theorizing the city: A new urban anthropological reader. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 83-106. Darke, C. (2005). Alphaville. London: IB Tauris. Faiola, A. (2002, 1 June). Brazil’s elites fly above their fears. Rich try to wall off urban violence. Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, p. A01. S. Feldman, personal communication, November 2009. Image: Christopher Horwood

The ultimate fortified and exclusive enclave? Condominio Cidade Jardin still under construction in 2009.

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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...

Profile for unhabitat
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