2015 - Ongoing
Paradise Garden, located 60 miles away from São Paulo, is one of many gated communities in the Brazilian Southeast. A house in such a development is the standard investment for upper middle class families who, running away from cities that are considered to be failed, wish to return to “a simple life” in the countryside. Gated communities became common around Brazil’s major cities in the 1970’s — along with the first shopping malls —, and haven’t stopped spreading ever since. Just in the year of 2012, the number of land allotments (largely dedicated to gated communities) in the State of São Paulo increased 27%. As similiar as the Brazilian variety might be to American suburbs, here a new element was made ubiquitous - the imperative desire to keep strangers out using heavily enforced walls and checkpoints. In Paradise Garden, guards carry guns and wear bullet proof vests. Residents are biometrically identified, and visitors need to be authorized and present a photo ID. In Brazil’s profoundly stratified society, violence is an endemic phenomenon as well as the object of a widespread social paranoia. Fear feeds the growth of such housing developments, that attract equals and leave any unpleasantness on the other side of the walls, existing in absolute disconnection to anything that is around it. What happens inside is a strange detachment between elements — everything is in its proper place, and yet, houses and shrubs, roads and even people seem somewhat surreal. This work intends to remove the veil of exoticism that covers the visual common sense about Brazil and to examine the brutality of the no-places contemporary architecture and urban planning have generated.