Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cingapura - São Paulo

This is a photo of Conjunto Habitacional Cingapura Zaki Narchi in the Carandiru neighborhood. Directly translated it makes no sense. Indirectly translated this is a public housing facility. Public housing that replaces favelas (shanty towns) is called "Cingapura", which of course is Singapore in English. This confused me until I read a bit more about Cingapuras.

In 1993, the São Paulo city government developed a project to verticalize (sorry, license taken on English grammar) the cardboard/brick and metal shanties in São Paulo. The first favela to be razed and the residents moved to a Cingupura was a favela called "Boa Esperança" or Good Hope. It lay right along the stream that leads away from the former Carandiru prison. The motivation behind moving people from these precarious shanties to public housing was many-fold: security improved, basic sanitation needs would be met, and public services such as trash and electricity could be implemented. As an offshoot, the stream would also be cleaner as it no longer was needed as a large bathroom. 700 families were moved to the new housing.

In the report (with which I became fascinated--if you speak Portuguese, you can read it here: Projeto Cingapura), several issues came up with the new housing. While still a shanty town, the residents paid a minimum value for electricity. At the new buildings, electricity bills are shared and some residents refused to pay. Also, the playground had concrete "toys' and these deteriorated and had to be replaced twice. In the summary of the project it mentions that the kids now play on destroyed cars within the borders of the housing and that is working just fine (!!!)

There are many Cingapuras now in the city limits. By the way, it was never clear from the report but I guess the name Cingapura came from making vertical housing in small areas--what the country of Singapore must need to do to handle its population. If anyone knows for sure the origins of the name, I would be interested to know.  One of the "prettiest" Cingapuras has recently painted its buildings bright yellow, purple, pink and green. I will try to get that photo sometime. 


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