Creola Bright Future

Client: stichting Uitracel / district Saramacca, Surinam Year: 2013
 Public Space Strategy / Local Economic Dev. Strategy / Resource Mobilisation
Project: Creola Bright Future aims at the exploration of cultural value through the lens of public space in the former slave plantation of Creola, Surinam. Creola is a former slave plantation that has been erected in 1934 and thus exists 80 year in 2014. Inhabitants in the area and in the surroundings are descendants of the slaves of this plantation. The local community of Creola has a dual relation to the plantation having been unvoluntary offspring of this dark side of Surinam’s history. At the same time local inhabitants have developed local arts and crafts, regional architecture and agricultural production of indigenous food on the site of the former plantation. This all creates a accidental assemblage of historic landscape architectonic artefacts like sluices and waterways with hidden podisiri (acai berry’s) plantations , regional architecture and local crafts on the production of for example Korjalen, the typical Surinam boat type. Locals living in the area all have their own stories and knowledge on what has happened over history on the plantation.

This project will amplify local cultural values in the area and relate them to the experience of the area itself in order to rebuild a local identity for Creola. This together should provide a network of public spaces that offer opportunities for small entrepreneurial activities. The project develops an alternative public space strategy as opposed to the tabula rasa development that is common these days in the privatized society of Surinam. By exploring local stories and cultural production in the area CreolaBrightFuture rewrites the story of Creola people throught the experience of public space. Not as a historical analysis but as a basis for contemporary cultural production, education and small entrepreneurship.
Sources: SmartCityStudio Picture: Local Podisiri (acai berry’s) plantation hidden in the woods of Creola.

Do It Together; Mutirão

Heliopolis is a favela within the city of São Paulo. Estimated is that within this favela 190.000 inhabitants live without having a legal address. In the seventies people invaded land and build this city themselves. Nowadays a share of the inhabitants rise into middle class. Part of the inhabitants still live in very poor conditions. Although the structures along the streets are actually quit good, the inside of the building blocks conceal a different quality, often with scarce space and daylight in a moist environment. Now that the city of São Paulo aims at the upgrade of favelas in the city the idea of mutirão becomes an alternative for the outplacing and verticalization of inhabitants.

“Rio established Operação mutirão which for the first time deemed resident participation necessary in community upgrades and relied on their own labor. The government provided engineering assistance and materials left over from other construction sites. Similarly, in 1968 governor Negrão de Lima gathered a group of architects, economists, and planners to form a program that offered design support and long term, low-interest loans on construction materials to residents: the Companhia de Desenvolvimento de Comunidades (Community Development Company, or CODESCO). CODESCO had residents vote on where within the community new streets would run and made sure to keep families together when moving people from one part of the neighborhood to another”. (

“In Portuguese, the word “mutirão” is used to describe “a meeting place, an opportunity to work together toward a common goal” (Harrison, Huchzemeyer & Mayekiso, 2004). “Mutirão, a word from Tupi Guarani, an indigenous language of Brazil, translates as a group of people who work together to create something that benefits all,” (Habitat for Humanity, 2010). In an urban context, it often means neighbors getting together to construct part or all of their homes together, people helping to build each others’ houses instead of doing it on their own, particularly during portions of building which require a great deal of work during a short period which one family, alone, cannot deliver. This kind of mutirão has been commonly used in past decades by international development agencies and governmental programmes for construction projects. It is also the basis for international volunteer programs like Habitat for Humanity.  It was a way to save money on the one hand, and give people the chance to be a part of such projects, on the other.” (




Brittany in France has a network of Eco-lodges which offer temporary housing or hotel facilities in the middle of a natural environment. This is a good example of small scale light urbanism which could be a way to inhabit attractive landscapes surrounding the city. Light urbanism comes together with a concept of slowness and remoteness. Limited infrastructure should conserve the natural quality of the landscapes.