Edgard Gouveia, Jr.
Fellow Since 2006
This profile was prepared when Edgard Gouveia, Jr. was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
In the entrenched poverty of Brazil’s urban slums, Edgard uses community-led physical revitalization to spur momentum for community change. When outside architects exclude local people from designing and building public spaces, these structures are often inappropriate for the context. They also end up being neglected because no one in the community feels responsible for them. Edgard realized that they only way to truly improve public spaces in the favelas was through community-led and inspired projects. Edgard has created a model to bring together favela residents and architecture students in planning physical revitalization projects. Through the Elos Institute, Edgard engages communities in joint ventures with architectural students to address urgent infrastructure and public space needs. Working to generate their own project demonstrates to community members that they are capable of transforming their own living situations, a lesson that goes far beyond simply improving their public spaces. At the same time, Edgard teaches a new generation of architects to understand the importance of community-influenced projects. Edgard follows up on the exchanges with a program that supports community members in continuing the projects and builds on this experience to encourage favela residents to create further change. Together, these two programs form the foundation of the model he hopes to spread through universities throughout Latin America.