Last week, Brazilian President Luiz In√°cio Lula da Silva, or Lula as he is affectionately referred to, announced a plan to build 1,000,000 homes in some of Rio de Janeiro’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Favelas, as they are called in Portuguese, are large slums that dominate the cityscapes of Rio de Janeiro, S√£o Paulo, and other major Brazilian cities. Rio’s favelas are located in some of the most picturesque parts of the city, creating a tragic juxtaposition between the rampant crime, drug trafficking, and violence that plague the slums.
Lula’s new plan is an attempt to return a bit of order to areas that have been living in chaos for generations. Most inhabitants of favelas live in makeshifts homes that would be condemned in any other part of the world, ripping off electricity and other utilities from neighbors or neighboring municipalities. The streets of the slums resultantly end up looking like tangled spider webs of multi-colored extension cords, ropes, and cables from above.
What is different about this particular project, however, is not the scope – though 1,000,000 homes may seem like a lot, it barely starts to address the needs of a country that is quickly catapulting to the top of the world’s stat sheets for both poverty and population – but the material with which the homes will be erected.
Working with British green technology incubator, Ultra Green Group, the homes will be constructed from an eco-friendly concrete that is comprised of used bullet casings.
According to Spain’s El Pais (Note: article in Spanish), the building material not only utilizes salvaged and repurposed goods, the inclusion of bullet casings in the concrete also make the material more efficient in terms of a thermal and acoustic insulate.
According to Ultra Green, the materials are 20% cheaper than conventional brick or concrete, and much easier to work with – apparently 10 workers can erect a small family home in a mere 14 hours.
Despite its green credentials, however, this new project has come under scrutiny from a different group of advocates. Sociologists argue that if this project is meant to help raise those who have the very least out of poverty, then constructing the new homes out of a symbol of violence that has oppressed and victimized them is nothing more than a cruel, ironic joke.
Photo Source: Iansa.org