F For Fun Favela Facade

painting favelas

Favelas. The first time you heard it, your mind would start thinking of slum, which also connected to criminals, poverty, dirty, dark, chaos. First favelas appeared in the late 19th century. When many people migrate from rural to urban and having no place to live. Favela become their home. The Favela, even during the projects in process, have high-rate of criminals, and drug distribution.

“The most worrying ingredient in most people’s use of the word ‘slum’, therefore, is the survival of these wholly negative connotations. Slum dwellers are not just people living in poor housing, they are considered by others to be people with personal defects.” (Alan Gilbert, 2007)


“It is this association between slums and the supposedly evil character of those who live there that is the most worrying aspect of our renewed use of the term. To some, the slum has always turner people into misfits.” (Alan Gilbert, 2007)


Haas and Hahn

Architect and artist, Haas and Hahn decided to make a project ‘favela painting’. The concept is to bring art as a tool to inspire, create beauty, combat prejudice and attract attention. The first favela painting was the 2004, called “Boy with Kite,” by Haas & Hahn.Although their first mission was to make music video, the painting leads to more and more artwork done by artists and the work of community, for example: Boa Mistura 2006, Women are heroes 2008-2009.

Not only art, the communities are also given workshops for masonry to renovate the houses in favelas. Favelas painting become a trend in different places of favelas in Brazil, and even worldwide. Participatory work will enable job creation, learning skills, identity change, and especially for community to have ‘sense of belonging’. But the reason of the participant to join was, it was a way for them to have fun and express themselves.


Boy with the kite – First favela painting project

Key actors of this movement are as follow: NGO Firmeza Foundation, Favela Painting org, 20 young people work as volunteers, citizens of vila cruzerio and Dona Marta. Akzo Nobel (companing of paintings), Rob Admiral (artist), IBISS (Brazilian Institute for Innovations in Social Healthcare) as local organization fighting social exclusion, Social Networks. Social networks are commonly used to get donation, while also helping advertising favelas. The projects has become viral, that painting favelas has been included as one of tourist destination by tourist agents.


The project includes several strategies and interventions.

  • Social Strategy. Through community workshops, citizens got involved in the artwork, young people were hired to participate in the painting, getting professional knowledge of construction and as painters. This participatory project will also separate the young generation from criminal acts, and have them hired as profesional artists.
  • Cultural Strategy. To connect the public space of favelas with an ‘artgrid’ around the city of Rio de Janeiro makes touristic attraction for foreigns, and lastly to change slum discourse.
  • Environmental Strategy. The use of color to improve urban image of favelas, preserve and make their identity stronger.This project also improve the structure of building, renovate the air circulation, and livability of the community.
  • Economy Strategy. The painting of favelas promotes touristic attraction in favelas, which help commerce and entrepreneurism. The favelas also become a tourist destination for local tourist agency, in which tourists can also participate in helping the on-going project.



favelapaintingproject06 favelapaintingproject14 1275406966-favela-painting-1-528x352 1275406969-favela-painting-2-528x352

Alan Gilbert, 2007. “The Return of the Slum: Does Language Matter?,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 697-713, December.

favela painting project video

favela painting website 

we are the city heroes


Further reading:

Elemental – a design and building company in Chile
Hábitat para la Mujer, Cochabamba, Bolivia
Rímac Reborn Project


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