Berlin-based photographer Patricia Parinejad has been exploring Brazilian favelas for years. Photographing informal housing and capturing through her lens one of the South American country’s largest problems, the German photographer became fascinated by the favelas' intricate maze and the life and buildings within them. Working on several projects in Brazil, she soon fell in love with Rio de Janeiro.

'My project explores the remarkable reality of these informal settlements and the interlacing structures of the spontaneous architecture of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas,' she explains. 'The tapestry of buildings in such unexpected patterns and the creative energy exuding from the wildly interwoven structures is fascinating.'

Favelas have existed in the country since the late 19th century. Brazil’s urbanisation in the second half of the 20th century made the problem worsen, paving the path for the current situation – such as Rio de Janeiro’s – where a staggering 22 per cent of the city’s population live in slums. Beyond Brazil, there are about a billion people across the globe living in similar, inadequate housing. 

Parinejad spent months documenting houses, informal structures and surfaces, as well as portraits, creating a detailed and extensive collection of photographs depicting life, architecture and society in these labyrinthine Rio neighbourhoods. 'It is a dynamic city,' she says, 'full of joy.'

In keeping with 2016 Architecture Biennale director Alejandro Aravena’s theme on the role of architecture in civil society, housing and urbanisation problems, Parinejad’s captivating work is currently on show at the Time Space Existence exhibition in Venice.

'I am glad that the exhibit is on in Venice,' concludes the photographer. 'This way I can give these people a voice and a face and creating a tiny bit of awareness.'

The exhibition is generously supported by the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV).