Holcim Foundation


“Why don’t you just build housing?”

Neighborhood center in Paraisópolis, São Paulo, Brazil

The situation in most informal settlements is out of control: The residents urgently need help to improve their living conditions – but complicated legal issues and diverse interests prevent people from realizing beneficial projects. Resolution and endurance is required, as the project PIPA in Paraisópolis shows.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines informal settlements as “areas where groups of housing units have been constructed on land that the occupants have no legal claim to” or as “unplanned settlements and areas where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations.” Informal settlements are therefore a symptom of urban development failure. They can be found in many major cities in developing countries, where the prospect of work and income has drawn multitudes from rural areas into the cities.


The UN report “Habitat III” of 2015 estimates that in these countries around 70 million people move to urban areas each year. In Latin America, about a quarter of the urban population now lives in favelas – the term “favela” is derived from a robust shrub that grew on the hills where the informal settlements were built in the early 1900s in Rio. 

Sol Camacho is an architect and urban designer. She received her Bachelor of Architecture at Mexico City’s Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO) and graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design with a Master of Urban Design. Her professional career includes work as an independent architect and various collaborative projects with well-known architects in Mexico, the USA, Brazil and France. She has worked at TEN Arquitectos in Mexico City, Skidmore Owings & Merill (SOM) in New York, the Architecture Studio in Paris, and other offices. Today, Sol Camacho runs her own architectural firm Raddar in São Paulo.

A17LATsiBR-book-10.jpgJonathan Franklin holds a degree in industrial engineering also from IBERO and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, USA. Franklin has worked as an analyst within Merrill Lynch’s financial institutions and mergers and acquisitions for Latin America in New York. After moving to Brazil, he became co-founder of Exxpon, a real estate development company in São Paulo. Sol Camacho and Jonathan Franklin are married and the parents of two children.

Read the full article: “Why don’t you just build housing?” in Fifth LafargeHolcim Awards – Sustainable Construction 2017/2018

Last Updated: July 11, 2018
Article Details
São Paulo, Brazil
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Community Capital in Brazil
Community Capital in Brazil

Strategic design for a mixed-use civic hub with durable architecture and long-term financing in the neighborhood of Paraisópolis, Sao Paulo.

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