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Women at the heart of Renova's resettlement

Larissa Pedroso has the role of coordinating – together with her peer Daniele Alves, the Conceptual Project team, a group of 18 female and 4 male architects working directly with families to develop the drawings and plans for the houses in the Bento Rodrigues resettlement.
 Larissa says that this project is very different to previous ones on which she has worked. “The unique context, size of the resettlement and interface with many different actors make the work much more complex. The urgency of resettling families is also significant.
“The biggest challenge is to establish the most participatory process possible in the maximum time available. The participation of various actors, such as the Renova Foundation, families, governments and technical assistants brings legitimacy to the process. However the longer it takes for families to be resettled, more painful it will be for them, resulting in a process that is less ideal.
 The profile of the impacted people varies greatly - young, old, families only of women, or men; people with higher education or little formal education, so the process needs to be adaptable and flexible. A variety of tools are used to understand people's desires and help them visualise their homes, backyards, shops, etc. The architects themselves need to pay special attention to the human aspects of their work to build trust. They must have respect for people’s choices and not impose their vision and culture.
“We understand the important role of women as transforming agents but every day we face the issue of patriarchy that is ever present in our society. Our aim is to create a safe and welcoming environment for discussion so that we can unite to promote gender equality.
 Despite the many challenges, Larissa says that the social aspect makes the work rewarding and she feels that it is a privilege to be part of it. She says that she tries hard not lose sight of the true meaning and purpose of the work and finds the opportunity to deliver what is best for the families hugely motivating. Larissa says that when the families visit their new allotment of land for the first time is their moment of greatest satisfaction.
 And what to the impacted people want for their future? Larissa says they long to have the tranquillity of their lives back. They want to be in their new homes as fast as possible, to feel that they belong where they live.