Community-driven art interventions in the Favelas of Brazil bring life and color to a downtrodden area.
While many outsiders might see the slums or “Favelas” of Brazil as an eyesore, design duo Haas & Hahn see them as an aesthetic challenge. In 2006 the pair (which is composed of Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn) got the idea to create “community-driven art interventions in Brazil” aka Favela Painting while filming a documentary about hip hop in Rio and São Paolo for MTV. Their earliest efforts produced two murals in Vila Cruzeiro ( Rio’s most notorious slum) which was created in collaboration with local residents. The results ended up receiving global coverage and have sparked a new and exiting form of urban renewal- and light in an otherwise forgotten area of the world.
Their first project, which was finished in 2007, was a 150m2 mural of a boy flying a kite- reflective of one of the most popular pastime in Rio’s favela’s. This was completed with the help of the local youth attracted from the Soldados Nunca Mais program of the Ibiss Foundation , which offers alternatives for a life of crime in one of the three drug gangs of the city. Their second large-scale painting (in Vila Cruzeiro) was completed in 2008- situated on a sturdy concrete structure built to protect the hill from mudslides during the rainy season.
While the team has tried to keep their visions practical and community based, their dream had always been to create a painting using an entire hillside favela. After the success of the two murals, they were emboldened to produce their most ambitious project yet- which involved employing (for pay) the inhabitants of a favela to paint their own houses, all according to a pre-arranged pattern. The result would be to turn their entire neighborhood into epic “explosion of color, joyfully radiating into the world.”
You can see some of the pictures from this amazing project below, and support their work here.