De-coding the Architectural Typologies of Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas


The project focuses on the ongoing process of regularisation of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Indeed, since 1992, Rio’s master plans established that legal codes, regularising and protecting the typicality of the occupation of favelas, had to be developed. However, in practice, this did not materialise, as standard-based norms turned out to be unsuitable to regularise favelas.
Rio’s master plan stated an interdisciplinary problem between the lines, raising the question of what rules mould the type/s of occupation of Rio’s favelas. This problem concerns many urban disciplines like planning, sociology, jurisprudence, but also architecture. Indeed, to explicit the rules that shape favelas, means to de-code the process of their construction as well. Nevertheless, to the knowledge of the author, there is virtually no literature dealing with this problem in the field of architecture. In this sense, this research aims at filling this critical gap.
The objective is to define a rule-based typological analysis. Such analysis is meant to ease the process of legally evaluating the rules that led the process of construction of Rio’s favelas. Specifically, the analysis is expected to make clear the relations within and between the material and social features that inform the typologies of favelas since their emergence. Besides, to define whether they mould morphological and/or typological variations.
By computational means, the project (1) systematises and classifies those variables that notably defines differences among favelas morphologies, (2) analyses the typologies of favelas and turns explicit their rules of construction, by employing shape grammar, (3) validates the outcomes of the analysis by a sample of Rio’s favelas.
To sum up, this project aims at shedding new light on the rarely acknowledged issue of favelas as urban types. This contribution strives to equip all the actors involved in the debate over regularisation with an analytical representation of the socially acknowledged, yet unofficial, rules that have been moulding favelas so far.