Sunning in the Slums

Taking a hint from heightened interest in Brazil's favelas, a German developer plans to build 10 villas in a Rio de Janeiro slum, which he'll market as the new tourist hotspot.

"[Rolf] Glaser is one of a small, bold band of foreigners going where most Rio residents fear to tread, catering to tourists who want to see the "real" Rio beyond the Copacabana beach district and the Christ the Redeemer statue.

The 52-year-old entrepreneur plans to build 10 or so well-appointed villas where tourists would be able to taste luxury and slum life at the same time."

"In a city renowned for the jaw-dropping beauty of its beaches and forested mountains, Vidigal, perched high at the end of a swanky beach area, has a panoramic vista that would make real estate agents' eyes water.

That is already causing worries that Glaser's investment, which he puts at around $500,000, may provoke property speculation that could force residents to sell and move to other slums.

Still, favelas remain largely off limits for Brazilians, leaving the way clear for foreigners who have found them increasingly fascinating and chic."

Full Story: Developer sees slum as Brazil's next tourism hotspot



Which real city?

Pablo Davies - PUC-RIo - Arhitecture/Urbanism Degree

Rio's historical richness states that the 100 y/old favela is just part of is realities. Different from many New World cities, the city of Rio is rich and diverse complexity. Its history is amazing, stuffed with simbolism, where every block has tons to tell and discuss about.

And if the slum is real Rio, what would you call the rest of the city? Copy, phoniness?

That's reducing the city's complexity simply and naivly to its social gap... an exotic scenario for first world foreingers... On the other hand, the city exists with its gaps and contrasts in many forms and manifests, but can not be reduced to the rich x poor. You may call it the other Rio.

Im not saying that the slums don't have a rich and vibrant culture themselves... on the contrary, but they just add to one of the world's cultural melting pots... the city of Rio.

Remember that foreigners hear about Rio from an oustside perspective, which seems easy to simplify the its qualities like any mid-size indusrtrial and emerging city worldwide... Many hostels around show the favela as the "real Rio", inventing this new touristic sense while reducing the city's value as a whole...

My opinion on the Vidigal solution varies. In one point, it is definettly a creative initiative for the slums... The especial thing about favelas is that any iniciative, or spark, being positive or negative, has a huge impact on the needy comunities...

On the other hand, trying to make a museum out it ins't the most beneficial and altruist attitude towards the vulnerable population... Maybe it gets trendy, exotic, who knows, but it deffinetly won't change people's life... Even if he makes better housing, and rase the people's income, the fact of continuing to live in a hyper densed area, lacking open and ventilating areas + difficult acces won't lead its population to a progressive susteinable development.

Its easy to deffend these aglomerations when we don't live in them. Here, culture is more important than life quality for slum defenders.

Beyond that, government is struggling to implant better accessibility and urban infra-structure on the sloppy hils. It is known that building new habitacional areas horizontally is way cheaper than readapting Rio's slums... For the last decades, Rio's public income is spending billions on those areas... For an emergency start it is reasonable, but It woun't bring the city into social justice and susteinability...

Vulnerability here is not poverty, but public absence on one hand, disguised by populist permissivity on the other, where governors are affraid to lose votes if controling slum growth (especially after losing its role of Brazillian Capital)... The vibrant and romanticized areas indeed suffer with lack of privacy, security, and 19th century health standards...

They are a victims to profiteers, where especulative and informal real estate industry produces emergning and anti-ethical new powers ... The myth of poverty is desguised by the billionair informal market and where rent in a favela is as high as many smaller cities in the country or less central, but rganized areas in Rio.

I'm not defending their removal ou their crystalizartion, only trying to introduce the real thing, beyond foreigner news.

Sorry for my english spelling

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