Welcome to CHAPA, which means local guide in Portuguese. We are a comparative research initiative focused upon the role of citizens in creating, applying, and visualizing data for urban design and development. Funded by the United States National Science Foundation, CHAPA is affiliated with The University of Texas at Austin, and based out of São Paulo, Brazil.

São Paulo collaborators include community associations UNAS in Heliópolis and the Zeladoria Ambiental (Environmental Stewards) in Jardim São Francisco. 


What data?

We are currently collecting social and technical data in 1,100 households across two communities successively upgraded by the same four "second generation" housing development approaches since the 1980s. 

While first generation housing policies across Latin America favored the construction of peripheral social housing estates, second generation approaches prioritized the upgrading or redevelopment of informal settlements that have consolidated since their establishment in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Ward, Jiménez Huerta, and Di Virgilio 2014). These second generation strategies range from infrastructure and public space improvements, to the construction of new housing within existing informal settlements. In São Paulo, 50% of informal settlements have been upgraded at least once; 35% twice, and 15% more than three times. 

In São Paulo, we have identified four general second generation housing types. Studies have evaluated singular approaches, yet none have assessed their impact on one another, nor the implications of their nexus on future alternatives. The lack of transparent data not only suppresses public knowledge about development efficacy, but limits residents from leveraging data for future development in their own communities.

From different transdisciplinary perspectives, we have the objective of uniting ethnographic depth and quantitative breadth to studies that advance citizen participation, sociospatial techniques, and equitable urban development.  In doing so, we seek to contribute to decision-making tools through which citizens and their governments evaluate how past dynamics impact future alternatives.


To these ends, the project aims include:


(1) establish assessment criteria in collaboration with community residents and local planning agencies;


(2) apply criteria to block and parcel level (n  = 1,100) analysis of the social and technical impacts associated with four primary upgrading approaches in São Paulo, Brazil; 


(3) visualize data findings to facilitate decision-making around development alternatives currently proposed by communities and local government;  


(4) create a digital tool for prioritizing revitalization strategies for upgrading, renovating, and retrofitting existing communities that reduce displacement and densify relative to emerging needs and expectations. 


We will use this site over the coming year to share the research findings, the dataset, and a modifiable tool for cities that want to unite equitable smart planning and upgrading into models for redeveloping informal settlements.


Thank you for visiting our site!  Please check back for updates, or request additional information through our contact page or in direct correspondence with the project lead: 


Kristine Stiphany

National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

The University of Texas at Austin 




Film presented at the UN Habitat III Conference