From decline to defiance

From decline to defiance

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Leonardo Cisneiros occupation: Squatting of vacant buildings in Santo Antonio as a spatial practice.

This thesis studies the phenomenon of “spatial appropriation” in Recife, Brazil. Like Sao Paulo, this city has experienced an emptying of its historic city center over the past century. Today, the Santo Ant nio neighborhood symbolizes this. After the closure of offices and other commercial activities, the place is falling dead. Except for a few places, people no longer live in the historic district. These vacant buildings have become the target of squatter movements in recent years. They take a cue from Sao Paulo where these movements have been active throughout the city for some time. Through their action, squatters are fleeing their precarious living conditions in their neighborhoods of origin and in this way are also protesting the lack of social housing in the country. Anno 2023, at the time of publication of this work, there are two squats active in Santo Antonio, The Leonardo Cisneiros occupation and the Menino Miguel occupation. The former will serve as the field of research in the thesis.

This work aims to gather insight about the people and system hiding behind such squatted premises. It also seeks to work with the community of the Leonardo Cisneiros occupation to find a solution to improve their living conditions and make this building a new social catalyst for the neighborhood.

To achieve this objective, research was conducted both remotely and in situ. Beginning with the site’s past, the thesis attempts to frame its opulent past, of slavery and colonization, among other things. This is followed by an analysis of all forms of spatial appropriation, ending with that of buildings. The thesis tells the story of the inhabitants of the Leonardo Cisneiros occupation and attempts to paint a picture of the challenges involved.

The research concludes with a series of tactics and references to address these challenges and to arm the occupation for the future.

  • Authors:
    • Marnix Brits
    • Xavier Houard

    • Nathan De Feyter (Promotor)
    • Frederik Vandyck (Promotor)
    • Lula Marcondes (Promotor)
    • Múcio Jucá (Promotor)
  • Period:
    • 2022 — 2023  

    • Architecture

    • Master thesis

    • UNICAP