ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Mixing Methods of Building Design, Urban Design, Social Management and Technology Application. The case of analysing urban patterns to upgrade derelict areas in central São Paulo with public housing production.

Maria Lucia Refinetti Martins

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 10 - Law Building, Room 105
Date: 2012-07-12 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2012-01-06


The context

This paper presents the methodological procedure used in a research that aims at developing urban design parameters based on high density and socio-environmental quality. The goal is to associate the advancement of knowledge in the fields of urban planning and design to the technology of the built environment, resorting to an unconventional methodological approach.

To explore research methods for approaching space one have first to state what is addressing as space. This paper considers the urban space and adopts the underpinning conception that space is a social production as well as it may influence social relations.

This research is in the field of Architecture and Planning: City Planning. Being in the area of applied social sciences, the matter of City Planning has components of technology, of arts and of social science, and has not scientific tradition nor specific methodology. It is half way between using social sciences methods to read social relations from the built environment and the need of using technology and art to make design and to build the public space.

The case study for which the methodology exposed in this paper was designed is the city of São Paulo. In parts of the downtown area the built environment has become obsolete for some types of use, becoming subject to the erosion of aging without maintenance and the abandonment. These areas have a broad locational quality but those who could afford to occupy the area show no interest in doing so and those who wish to have access do not because they lack economic resources and suitable offers. This scenario resulted in loss of population during the last decades and the confrontation among: locked and unused property awaiting a market high, the possibility for affordable housing, and renovation projects that throw out the local low-income population.

Major public investments in this areas result in transfers of this public resources to higher income social and economic sectors. This also generates the increasing of the price of land in the region and surroundings.

The work takes the principle that it is possible to qualify these areas in a different way, by the investment of public resources in promoting social housing. The use of this land should be maximized, hence the proposal to increase the density. But for that there are technical and social limits.

The method

The methodology designed in the project is a combination of methods from various fields related to the production of the built environment. It takes as central axis the concept of adequate housing (UN-Habitat) expressed trough human requirements in relation to housing conditions.

The notion of human requirements comes from the studies of comfort for buildings (ISO 6241 - Performance Standards in Building (1984) and the Brazilian NBR 15575 - Performance of Housing Buildings up to 5 floors - 2008).

Methodologies in this area (comfort) connect to each human requirement a variable (a need to be fulfilled), which is expressed through its attendance requirements and has a specific method of assessment (criteria). The current study began with a derivation of this method, extending it from “building” to the neighborhood and to urban space. This is the practice developed by LABAUT, who has worked for years in the field of urban environmental comfort. Combining these practices with the procedures in the area of social management and urban design from LABHAB, methodology was drew as follows.

Among the human requirements adopted in ISO 6.241 and NBR 15.575, the project adopted those related to the environment. Thus, for example, stability requirements of the building were excluded. The requirements have been associated to environmental and socio-urban variables in order to take into account both the physical qualities related to “environmental comfort” and socio-urban qualities related to “social comfort”. To each variable it has been displayed a “requirement” which attendance can be evaluated by am appropriate criteria. A table was designed to present all this.

The effort to link these two fields, environment and socio-urban, required the production of a glossary, since terms like salubrity (conceived from ISO 5241 -11, Hygiene and NBR 15575, Habitabilidade) takes on different meanings for each of these areas of knowledge.

Based on these requirements of urban comfort and social comfort, the urban design will be done and verified in an interactive process of design and performance assessment.

The essays of urban design are made on maps of the block, where the buildings in good condition, which shall be maintained are highlighted. A repertoire of types of buildings that accommodate medium and high residential density is considered to design alternatives to dense the block. These different proposals are than assessed by the criteria both environmental and socio-urban. Only after that any regulatory standards for urban pattern may be proposed.

With this set of procedures the project proposes a methodology based on Performance, that is at once analytical as well as helpful for propositions.