Social housing customization in Brazil refers to the current processes of development and evolution of government-funded neighborhoods for the lowest-income population. The mass production of small housing units that do not satisfy family needs instigates a self-design and self-construction process post-occupancy to customize the units. Ultimately, these changes to the units bring unintended negative consequences for the families and the city. In this context, mass customization is seen as an alternative to address some of the problems related to unit design.
This paper shows how low-cost social housing neighborhoods are produced through government-funded programs and how these neighborhoods develop post-occupancy. Furthermore, the paper shows potential paths to maintain adequate environments in these neighborhoods as they evolve. It is based on the revision of literature including research papers, legislation, case reports and post-occupancy studies, as well as results from the authors’ previous research. The paper starts with a historic overview to provide the necessary background for the understanding of the social housing processes currently in place. Following the historic background, the paper outlines, in Section 3, the current processes for the production of social housing neighborhoods for the lowest income range, highlighting the main stakeholders and their roles. Section 4 then shows the post-occupancy processes in neighborhoods of house units focusing on the changes the families make to their houses and the problems these changes bring to themselves and the city. In Section 5, the paper describes ways to address these unit changes while maintaining adequate environments as the neighborhoods evolve. In particular, Section 5 shows possibilities for mass customization to contribute to the processes in this context. Concluding remarks are outlined in Section 6.