“When we’re not in the map”: configuration as strategy for sociospatial reading of favela

Leading researcher: Vânia Teles Loureiro
Research group: Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography
Type of project: Doctoral research
Status: Concluded
Keywords: Favelas | Sociospatial patterns | Space Syntax

Main institution: CRIA
Participant institutions:
Funding: CAPES (Brasil)
Starting date: 01-03-13

More information:


This thesis aims to decodify the spatial system of favela throughout the study of its self-organized configuration. Once it is frequently observed as extremely segregated and disorganized, its spatiality tends to be uncomprehended in the process of interventions and development, being primarily observed by its problems. The Theory of The Social Logic of Space (HILLIER & HANSON, 1984) is the theoretical, methodological and technical approach for this research, allowing to read such phenomena by its spatial complexity. The study compares 120 settlements around the world explored according to a set of 26 configurational variables (among qualitative and quantitative, geometric and topologic). The results are compared with a sample of 45 portuguese medieval towns (representative of organic cities) and also with the research by Medeiros (2013) for 44 Brazilian cities (representative of contemporary urban structures). The main goal of this thesis is to observe in which way the configuration of favelas, read through its spatial patterns, affects its sociospatial dynamics. It is intended to answer two research questions: 1) is there a spatial pattern for favela? and 2) In which way favela reproduces historically consolidated spatial patterns inherent to organic cities? The hypothesis is that the spatial configuration of favela reveals spatial patterns from its self-organized structure that are responsible for successful urban dynamics. Despite being disregarded because of the difficulty to apprehend its syntax, this inherent spontaneity works as a catalyser of spatial quality once its complexity is understood and decodified. Findings reveal that favela tends to organize itself inside the surrounding system in some way, searching for direct external connections as well as ways to structure its internal space. The configurational study shows that recognized spatial patterns are mostly common to organic structures. And despite favelas being much denser structures in consolidation process, its internal dynamics reveal good global relations. It behaves similarly to consolidated urban systems and share common spatial logics throughout world regions and distinct cultures. This highlights the importance of self-organization as essential to favelas development reinforcing its spatial qualities through the process.

Researchers from CRIA

IDNamePositionProjTitleProject typeStatus
pub513*Vânia Teles LoureiroPrincipal investigatorproj344*"When we're not in the map": configuration as strategy for sociospatial reading of favelaDoctoral researchConcluded
pub454*Maria Rosália GuerreiroSupervisorproj344*"When we're not in the map": configuration as strategy for sociospatial reading of favelaDoctoral researchConcluded
Other researchers

Valério A. S. de MedeirosSupervisorUniversidade de Brasíliaproj344*"When we're not in the map": configuration as strategy for sociospatial reading of favela