Exploring the edge condition of São Paulo, Justin McGuirk analyses the different forms of dwelling available to its would-be citizens, and meets some of the people carving a life for themselves on the verge of this unforgiving metropolis. Driving anti-clockwise, we take a journey backwards in time, moving from cardboard favelas and hastily built tower blocks back to modernist social housing and the factory town built early in the last century. Is this a tale, as the Brazilian flag attests, of "order and progress"? Are the citizens of the periphery better off looking after themselves than in the hands of developers and the paternalistic state? Part road trip and part urban critique, this drive-by portrait makes the case that the city is best understood not by its centre but by its edge. Justin McGuirk is a writer, critic and curator based in London. He is the director of Strelka Press, the publishing arm of the Strelka Institute in Moscow. He has been the design critic of The Guardian, the editor of Icon magazine and the design consultant to Domus. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. His book, Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture will be published by Verso in spring 2014.
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