Luz nas vielas

São Paulo, Brazil

“Luz nas vielas” was developed in Vila Brasilândia, a favela located in the Northeast of São Paulo, where we had the chance to spend a couple of weeks hosted by the wonderful Gonçalves family. This way, we got access to get to know the community,

We defined the framework in the narrow and winding alleyways which connect the higher and lower urban areas, known as “vielas.”

The project aims to respond to this particular spatial complexity. We flattened the perspective, so from a certain spot (anamorphosis), the words «BELEZA», «FIRMEZA», «AMOR», «DOÇURA» and «ORGULHO» can be read. All the words were surrounded by a flat color, equally covering all the construction materials, democratizing the space.

These were for us, the portrait of the favela.


The intervention is located in Vila Brasilândia, one of the favelas that grow under the shadow of skyscrapers in São Paulo’s outskirts. 
Truly a house ocean that extends beyond the limit of the horizon. We were able to settle in the favela, trying to understand how life unfolds inside it.

Structurally, Brasilândia both grows horizontally and vertically, responding to the topography. The main infrastructures are zig-zag shaped roads which meander all along the hills. 
On a lower scale, winding narrow alleyways give access to the houses, crossing from top to bottom all the main roads. These "cracks" are known as "becos" on the flat areas and "vielas" on the stairways. They both are the real articulators of life inside the community.

Participatory process

According to the process, the neighbors participation was a key element for making the project more fluent and spontaneous.
The kids were always in the lead. All together cleaned and painted the alleys to bring a sense of empowerment.

The words

Our portray of the favela were five words written as a reflection of our experiences lived there: "Beleza": is the word used in Brasilandia to greet people, the first word that two people say to each other when they meet: Beauty. "Orgulho": Pride of belonging to the neighborhood is something that is missing in these communities. A feeling to awake. "Amor": Love is something we experienced from the first moment in Brasilândia. A necessary word to break prejudices. "Firmeza": Strength is something they need in the everyday struggle. People actually high five each other using this word. "Doçura": Sweetness of every kid who painted with us in every street.

February 2017: back to the favela

During February 2017, we came back to our beloved Favela to expand the project.  We added two new words: “Poesia” and “Magica” (poetry and magic), highlighting the beauty of the irregular constructions, the magic of the spontaneous urban growth, the intensity of the relationships between neighbors and the smile of the kids playing up and down the stairs.

Information and credits
  • The intervention developed in 7 alleys, each about 30m long, in Vila Brasilândia, Brazil, in January 2012 and February 2017
  • Plastic water-based paint on wall
  • This project was possible thanks to the support of Singapore AirlinesVirada SustentávelMontana Colors and the collaboration of the Embassy of Spain in Brazil
  • Thanks also to the small paint shops in the favela that donated part of the material
  • Thanks to Paula Pascual, Mamen Macías, Clara Irigoyen, Jaime Prades, André Palhano, Isabela Menezes, Monica Picavea, Rosângela Macedo, Tatiane Gois, Joks, Smoky and Shalak
  • And our most emotional and profound gratitude to Dimas, Evaneide, Eurípedes, Priscila, Bea, Pedro, Edgar and all the Gonçalves family who welcomed us into their home as if it were ours.
  • Photography by Boa Mistura
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