Federation for
Housing and

54th World Congress, 4th-17th November 2010

Thursday 04.11.2010 to Wednesday 17.11.2010
Porto Alegre, Brazil

Building Communities for the Cities of the Future

The 54th IFHP World Congress in Porto Alegre, Brazil, hosted by the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), was a great success, both in terms of content and professional and social contact.

It was a big and diverse event. More than 900 people attended the keynote speeches, parallel sessions, workshops, student competition, young professionals award, paper presentations, poster exposition, city visits, study tours, dinners and receptions etc. In addition, the congress was flanked by pre- and post-congress activities. Three days before the congress, implementation labs for students and young professionals looked into two practical issues facing Porto Alegre: preparing for the World Cup football in 2014 and how to give the city back its waterfront. Both before and after the congress , professional visits were organized to Brasilia, Curitiba, Rio, Salvador and Belo Horizonte.  But for the four days of the congress itself, it was the pleasant university campus of PUCRS which was the platform for the international exchange of experience, knowledge and ideas and a source of mutual inspiration. That was indeed the aim of the congress.

The main theme of the congress “Building Communities for the Cities of the Future” involved a wide range of issues, emanating from the three sub-themes:

  1. How can tomorrow’s cities be more socially equal, sustainable & affordable?
  2. How can communities be included in the city of the future?
  3. Can the urban spaces created by the modernist design of cities promote community life?


Obviously housing, and within that slum (‘favela’) housing, played a fundamental role in the debates. The enormous housing demand in the cities all over the world and the predicted acceleration of extreme urbanization is an issue that we must continue to discuss and study ever more intensively, in order to undertake the most effective action to mitigate the problems involved. The relationship between slums and the malfunctioning of the housing sector proves the importance of tackling the issue of social housing in developed and developing countries in different ways. Within the context of the objective of sustainable community building, the value of culture, entertainment and events was identified. However, the decision to organize an event in the city is just as important as the way how you organize it. How can we realize projects and events from which citizens actually benefit? And which citizens benefit?

These questions did not only come to light when discussing events or entertainment, but is also an important part of the issue of citizen participation. Citizen participation is considered as fundamental, but it is not easy to ensure that all citizens concerned are always invited to participate, which can make citizen participation an even more exclusive practice. Possibilities to prevent this were proposed, in which citizens get a central and sometimes leading role. On the occasion of the 50th birthday of the modernist city of Brasilia, this brought us to another central theme. To what extent can planners and architects make a place? Modernist cities and projects were analyzed and together with that the way planners and architects have, and have not, been able to create adequate places and “pleasant spaces” for citizens. 

The congress inspired many questions and brought many current problems to light. But just as importantly, it provided ideas, solutions, and inspiration and demonstrated the will to work and to change things in today’s cities. Therefore, we feel it is of great importance to retain the information and knowledge the congress generated in both a practical and tangible form. Different materials, such as presentations and reports on different activities, will be placed as soon as possible on the IFHP-  and the congress websites.

IFHP would like to express its grateful thanks to PUCRS. It was a truly pleasant experience for us to organize the congress together with them. Their dedication, ideas, creativity, and congress location was of great value to make this unforgettable event.

The congress website, will stay for a while and will contain all the information as well.