Occupations as drivers of inclusive urban regeneration

Occupations as drivers of inclusive urban regeneration

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From degeneration to regeneration in Santo Antônio, Recife

Brazilian major cities have been the stage of social occupation movements for several decades. They have emerged in a context where housing for low-income groups in urban areas is very scarce while at the same time, a lot of high-quality buildings in city centres are simply vacant. In a search for decent housing, they re-appropriate these abandoned spaces through a variety of informal practices, challenging common practices of top-down urban renewal. Whereas in cities like Sao Paulo these social movements have been operating for quite some time and the occupation of vacant properties has already led to urban regeneration, it is a more recent phenomenon in Recife. This master’s thesis research aims to support the emancipation process of these younger occupations in Recife, focusing specifically on the Leonardo Cisneiros occupation, located in the abandoned city centre of Recife, Santo Antonio. This occupation arose when the MLRT occupation movement squatted the abandoned Segadas-Vianna building in 2016 and repurposed the building into a social infrastructure. The occupation now existed for over two years and provides shelter for approximately 120 people. This master’s thesis research explores what steps the occupation can take to pursue government recognition and in doing so, promote inclusive models of urban development. Within this research, an approach to urban renewal is outlined that utilizes processes of emancipation, self-production and self-management by occupations to introduce inclusive regeneration processes in Santo Antonio, Recife.

To investigate how the emancipation process of the Leonardo Cisneiros community can be supported, participatory action research was conducted with the residents of the occupation. Through various research initiatives, knowledge was developed about their internal organization, living situation, needs and desires. Additionally, a reference study was conducted on how influential occupations in Sao Paulo organize and present themselves. From the reference study, the different steps these occupations have gone through, and the partners involved in that process, are identified. This results in a step-by-step guide that translates these actions to the specific context of Santo Antonio in Recife, focusing on emancipatory, organizational, and spatial aspects related to sustaining, consolidating, and expanding the Leonardo Cisneiros occupation. The research demonstrates that the ingredients for a successful, long-lasting occupation are also present in Santo Antonio.

  • Authors:
    • Tine Vande Capelle

    • Marleen Goethals (Promotor)
    • Thomas Vanoutrive (Promotor)
    • Múcio Jucá (Promotor)
    • Lula Marcondes (Promotor)
  • Period:
    • 2022 — 2023  

    • Urbanism & Spatial Planning

    • Master thesis

    • UNICAP