Thursday, November 4, 2010

Get to know Sao Paulo better: Cortiços

Even if Sao Paulo is often pictured as the richest and business city of Brazil, this is not the reality for many of its inhabitants. In the center of Sao Paulo, next to famous touristic points, some families live in what is known here as a cortiço. A cortiço is usually a house, divided into several small rooms, where many people live in poor hygiene condition and poverty. Sometimes big families live in a very small room and they have to share bathroom with other families, having very little privacy.

Part of the history of these cortiços are reported in the book we are suggesting you today: Cortiços – A Experiência de São Paulo. In the book you can also find the actions implemented since 2005 by the Municipality of São Paulo in the neighborhoods of Mooca and Se to improve the living conditions in these houses. The preface is by Thomas Hagenbrock, architect and urban consultant for the World Bank, the pictures are of Fabio Knoll and the book is edited by Alonso López, Elisabete França e Keila Prado Costa. The book is the result of the Programa de Cortiços from the Municipality of São Paulo and of the CDHU – Companhia Habitacional de Desenvolvimento Urbano (Housing Agency fot Urban Development).

The program, endorsed by the Lei Moura (1991) establishes minimum standards for housing to be completed by the owners of cortiços. To enforce the law, from 2005 to 2010, 1,814 properties in the central region were inspected, among which 723 have not been classified in this category. Of the remaining 1091 properties, 36 have been completely refurbished, 280 are in the works of adaptation and 66 were banned to represent a life risk to residents.

The book ca be download for free. It is really worth to read it and look at the pictures if you want to know a face of the city that is not so glamour as what we usually suggest you but that is, certainly, a representative slice of Sao Paulo society.

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