Paradise Garden looks into the life of the gated community where my family live, in my hometown, Indaiatuba, and particularly into the content of its aspirational architecture. Gated communities became common around Brazil’s major cities in the 1970’s — along with the first shopping malls, and the bloodiest years of the US-backed military dictatorship. Pastoral fortresses like Paradise Garden, are protected by bullet proof vest-clad armed guards, cameras, fingerprint scanners and electric fences. In this hyper-secure, walled development, the streets are named after Italian cities, and the houses nod to Swiss chalets, European villas and neoclassical columns. “Condomínios” –modeled after United Statesian suburbs– cater to a conservative upper-middle class that feels anxious about crime in big cities, and yearns for organized tranquility. In Brazil’s profoundly stratified society, gated communities present themselves as pockets of cohesion, where liberties such as allowing children to play on the street are artificially guaranteed. In reality though, these pastoral fortresses violently interrupt the urban fabric and contribute to aggravate the contradictions they attempt to remedy.

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