In '73 I was in Bahia, working in the favelas of Alagados. Working to help.

The plans, that I took to Salvador, were traditional plans of an architect who gets a report from a sociologist, and then starts making housing layouts. It had nothing to do with reality. When walked in the favela, I admired the creativity of the people and their lack of fear in doing things themselves. There were many shops, beauty salons, a school for infants and even a tower structure. While no body was helping them, they were coping. 

I immediately noticed some structural mistakes. Some houses were already leaning over, being held by another, or by improvised suspension. So I thought, here I am, having the knowledge I can help a lot just by spreading it..


I saw a man cutting wood with a toy-like saw. I asked him if he´s building his house, and he answered that he’s building for everyone, and is the communities builder. He hardly had any tools. His little son, was pulling nails out of old wooden grocery boxes to straighten them out for use. So that was their building material.

I did feel ashamed.. Here I was again, calling myself an architect, and telling these people how to do things. While I had no idea what they actually needed, and what their difficulties were. They had no help from the government. A city engineer only would come and forbid things, like when the wiring was not ok..