Student Work

  • Design Studies (MA)

    Laura Belik

    Cities: To whom, by whom? - The Minhocao elevated highway case study in Sao Paulo/Brazil

    This thesis explores how people use and claim their public spaces and the consequences of those attitudes and behaviors. The research not only questions the role of city planners and their impositions in the built space but also analyzes the efforts that citizens and users make towards spatial democracy. Always considering the city’s multiplicity, the project focuses on one case study: the Minhocão, a soon-to-be-deactivated elevated highway in São Paulo, Brazil.  The deactivation has raised debate between a range of actors over various possible futures of the structure.

    Given that urban land is treated as a commodity, it is difficult to consider the utility of space without understanding that utility as an effect of the influential powers of capital. The challenge is to understand how to make the city and its public spaces more democratic. In this sense, claiming the “commons” is not only a shift in discourse but also its reification.