Project Morrinho is a social and cultural project based out of the Vila Pereira Da Silva Favela in the Laranjeiras neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Project Morrinho was started by a local youth, Nelcirlan Souza de Oliveira, in 1998. It is a model of the city constructed from bricks and other recycled materials. It originally began as a simple childhood game to escape the realities of violence and corruption that surrounded the teens and their community.
Within this miniature world of Morrinho, which means little hill, participants act out a role-playing game with the numerous lego block dolls and other childhood toys and recycled materials that inhabit the model, recreating life in Rio’s Favelas. In addition to the lego blocks, Morrinho is inhabited by cars, police vehicles, helicopters, houses, and shops. Morrinho represents the honest truth of the reality lived by these young people of the community.
In recent years, Morrinho has gained increasingly international press. It has grown from a local phenomenon to an international exhibition. The project has been able to use its popularity to place attention towards social change. The unique innovation of the Project has been recoqnized by curators and criticas as a legitimate expression of contemporary art, and has drawn considerable international attention from journalist, architects, musicians, scholars, and tourist. Morrinho is open to the public and encourages travelers and locals to visit the project. Currently more than 20 teenagers are regularly participating on the project.
Morrinho aims to bring positive change to the local community, as well as challenge the popular perception of Brazil’s Favelas. Through its work, Morrinho contributes directly to the socio-cultural and economic development of the surrounding areas. The belief that Favelas are merely dominated by drug trafficking and violence is not all encompassing. Morrinho communicates the realities of life in the Favela and that it is multi-dimensional.