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Anker 1

Rio de Janeiro Favela Libraries


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In co-operation with the Ciespiand residents of the Santa Marta and Mangueira de Botafogo community

In mid November-mid December 2003 I visited Rio de Janeiro. The first week I visited 6 favelas or communities. Through contacts with different people I meet Anjali Kaur who works for ciespi and proposed her to do an art project with them.

The NGO ciespi – The International Center for Research and Policy on Childhood – runs libraries for children in favelas in Rio de janeiro to motivate them to see books as a possible tool for knowledge and education.


In co-operation with them I organised a process to change the interior design of two of their newly started libraries in order to make the politics and function of the interior work towards the aim and ideas they have. Together with members of the community and ciespi I lead a creative process to make a plan for the refurbishment, how to involve the children, what and where to get materials, how to qualify our ideas, etc.

This plan is then set out to be implemented by the communities and ciespi. I have set up a fund of R$ 2,000 (app. € 290) for the realisation of the project. This will take place in January-April 2004.

The purpose of the project was to create conciousness about what space means and how this meaning plays into the function of the space. To politicise space. We defined the project to “create a space that would be like stepping into an imaginary world of books that would intrigue children”.

This process of ‘rendering meaning to the space’ was also used to give ownership of the library to the community, both children and their parents, by participating in the project. As well as lead to a process of involvement of the children in the library as they will over time make contributions to the interior, e.g. paint figures on the walls, make puppets, make interior items for the bamboo house, etc.

Part of the crew: Sara (ciespi), Kenneth A. Balfelt, Janaina (Mangueira de Botafogo), Anjali (ciespi), Gabriela (Mangueira de Botafogo) and the son of Janaina.


more on this project

Rio Life and Conditions

Favelas in Rio


Love And Community

Analyses of Library

Interior Design Plans

Report and Plan for Library Interior

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