Heliopolis Sustainable Social Housing

A Pilot Project for sustainable social housing in São Paulo as part of the Minha Casa Minha Vida programme.

Commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Useful Studio worked in collaboration with Useful Projects (UP) and LEEP Architects to develop recommendations for the design of a sustainable social housing pilot project in São Paulo.  The pilot project will provide 4,000 homes on a brownfield site on the edge of the Heliopolis favela in the south-east of the city, as part of the national Minha Casa Minha Vida scheme.

Useful Studio developed of a set of design principles for achieving sustainable, well-designed places and buildings that are successfully integrated into their urban context. The design principles make recommendations at neighbourhood, block and unit scale, sitting alongside UP’s sustainable objectives and processes to form a robust set of guidelines for creating sustainable social housing in São Paulo. These guidelines will be applied and tested on the Heliopolis site as the basis for the design and delivery of the pilot project.

We visited São Paulo to conduct a 4-day workshop with the Prefeitura to exchange knowledge, expertise and develop the proposals for the site.  We also visited several existing social housing schemes in Heliopolis, which will form the basis of detailed case studies that will supplement the design guidelines.

A summary of the project is available to view and download here: Heliopolis Case Study



Foreign and Commonwealth Office




May 2016

Team Credits: 

Sustainability Consultant: Useful Projects

Masterplanning: LEEP Architects

Image Credits: Useful Studio, Useful Projects and LEEP Architects