Fall '10

Plug In São Paulo

Design for Housing, Education, and Public Space

Design Studio

  • Start 21.09.2010
  • ETH Zurich, HIL D 15
  • Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg & Prof. Hubert Klumpner
    Michael Contento, Lindsey Sherman


Within the last century the population of São Paulo has jumped from only 240,000 in 1900 to 19.7 million in 2006 (metropolitan area). The massive urban footprint of over 7,900 square kilometers is still growing. The resulting phenomena of this exponential growth form a disparate set of challenges, including informal settlements that now shape the future of the urban environment. Despite major infrastructural projects that have been generated over the last century to cope with this incessant and rapid growth, some areas of the city still lack the infrastructure and services necessary to provide even a basic quality of life. These are the favelas. New tactics are needed to explore alternative methods of design in the context of this Mega-City of the south. Traditional planning practices need to be challenged! The task of the studio is to imagine new ways to occupy the city by developing design interventions and operations situated at the intersection of three of São Paulo’s major challenges: housing, education, and public space.

The Plug In will become a new typology that combines these three issues. Using comprehensive sets of design tools, it will be generated within the context of the favela. This inclusion will catalyze new processes for operating in this unique urban fabric. The studio will use the concept of the Plug In to research and design for a real test site within a favela. By combining housing, education, and public space within broader issues – infrastructural, political, social, economic – these new typologies can assess innovative possibilities for operating in the city. The studio will rethink conventional understandings to Plug In to the real systems and context at work in the favelas, and we will occupy the critical intersection between the Formal and the Informal.

The Plug In redefines the existing;
The Plug In explores the new;
The Plug In re-codifies the city;
The Plug In promotes participation;
The Plug In generates action.