The metropolis of Recife (population 3.8 million) is the capital of the state of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil. As in many Brazilian cities, the middle class has left the downtown area. There is a lot of life during the day because of the stores, educational institutions and offices. But at night, many city neighbourhoods are deserted and unsafe. Buildings are partially or completely empty. At the same time, 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. More than 800,000 people live in difficult conditions in favelas or squat in vacant office buildings.
Civil organisations such as "reclaim the streets" and government urban renewal that focus on culture and entertainment are already trying to make the inner city image more attractive to the middle class again. We are even seeing the return of new young middle-class residents (and in their wake new cafes, restaurants and educational institutions). However, this transformation, limited to a few neighbourhoods, is also causing gentrification and displacement of poorer residents.
In addition, Recife is one of the most vulnerable cities in the world to climate change. Built on former low-lying marshland, the city increasingly suffers from flooding and erosion. The lack of green areas and heat waves make the city's neighbourhoods highly susceptible to the heat island effect and droughts.
This master's thesis research will explore with vulnerable groups and their civic organisations (including squatter movements) how to revitalise the inner city in a socially just way. For example, it will look at how vacant (government) buildings can be repurposed as (social) housing in safe, socially sustainable, healthy and climate-robust neighbourhoods where vulnerable groups such as the homeless and favela residents can be housed. An important emphasis will be placed on how city neighbourhoods can already be improved in the short term through civil actions (urban tactics in public spaces (playgrounds, sports infrastructure, neighbourhood restaurants and cafes, temporary housing projects, markets, etc.), whether or not in cooperation with the government. The legal, and administrative-organisational aspects of the renewal and approach to vacancy in downtown Recife are also part of the study.