The favelas–or shantytowns–of Rio de Janeiro are known as dangerous eyesores controlled by drug lords. But it’s almost hard to imagine the Rio landscape without this sea of hand-built architecture, crafted with the cobbled ingenuity of 11 million people seeking happiness just as hard as anyone living in swank apartments.
Since 2005, Dutch studio haas&hahn–consisting of artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn–has been exploring these slums, and they’ve been painting larger and larger-scale projects in Rio’s favelas, going so far as to employ dozens of young artists to produce the colorful murals spanning as far as 34 houses in one continuous pattern.
The grand idea was born from documentary work the duo completed for MTV Holland. “It struck us that young people in favelas had such a mature and well informed attitude about their situation. Most of them were proud of where they grew up,” Koolhaas tells Co.Design. “In more affluent areas, the attitude toward the favelas was one of fear and apprehension. The contrast shocked us. It just so happened that when we were standing in Vila Cruzeiro, looking at that hill, we had the idea that if we could paint the whole thing, together with locals, people might look again and reconsider.”
Of course, beyond the aesthetic statement–one that might flip the perception of “slum” into “community”–the giant works project would also add a coat of plaster to all of the homes, significantly increasing the structural integrity of its buildings. In other words, you could see haas&hahn as visionary artists, or you could see them as well-meaning safety inspectors. (Both perceptions would be a bit true.) But in either case, the $100,000 they’re looking to raise on Kickstarter seems like a bargain for the project–especially in light of the $14 billion or so that Rio is spending in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.
[Hat tip: designboom]