Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Markus Berger

Third Advisor

Julia Bernert


Brazil - a country with a history of colonization, slavery, precipitated industrialization, rapid urbanization, superimposed european modernism (architectural and ideological), unstable politics, growing inequity, socio-economic stratification and overpopulation combined with a lack of adequate housing for the wider population. The government has been trying to solve these issues with standardized, unsuccessful social housing projects along the periphery of the city, disregarding the population’s lifestyle and neglecting their visions. This perpetuates existing discriminatory divides, enforced through architecture and infrastructure.

This thesis attempts to improve the quality of life of the residents in the Cohab Neighborhood in Recife, which is one of the social housing projects developed in the 1960s and 1970s. As they stand, we are left with scars of the past. How can we modify what we already have through thoughtful adaptive reuse?

The project relies on ‘Quadras’ - open public squares that are surrounded by mostly residential buildings. These quadras can be found throughout the Cohab neighborhood and have already functioned as a gathering place for the residents in the past, but are now neglected and under-utilized. The inhabitants of these communities are included in the design and development process through conversations, surveys and, in the final implementation, through local craftsmanship and design choices. By using these spaces to revive urban dead spots, residents are able to deter crime through an active streetscape.

The proposed design is a network of interventions that work as tools that can be adapted by the community according to their needs. Customization and the co-creation of one‘s environment lie at the core of this thesis. The intervention is a critique on the original masterplan, with the act of claiming space as a protest against something that the community had been neglected in the past - agency and their voice. The set of guidelines for the intervention can be applied to every Quadra in the entire neighborhood, generating a network that not only activates COHAB but eventually also reaches beyond and reconnects it back to the Recife’s larger social context.



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