7 Abandoned Buildings We’d Like to See Fixed Up

Fordlandia sounds like it should be an amusement park for car lovers. While it never housed rollercoasters or fun houses, the Brazilian city was indeed the brain child of Henry Ford. The industrialist had big plans for the community: Not only would it bring thousands of jobs to the area as a manufacturing plant for rubber, but it would be a social utopia built on the philosophies Ford believed would better society. When he famously raised the wages of his workers to five dollars per day, the increase came with stipulation that staff would’t drink alcohol, be physically abusive toward their family, or take in boarders. Employees were also required to contribute to a savings account and keep their homes clean.

His desire to “improve” his factory workers evolved into a need to do the same with whole cities. Enter: Fordlandia, which grew to include a hospital, library, school, and dance hall. Ford chose the Amazon jungle for a variety of reasons, most importantly believing it would be an ideal place to grow rubber trees. But the project ultimately failed. Factory-trained employees originally ran the plant instead of botanists or horticulture specialist, which meant the trees didn’t flourish like they were supposed to. There were also many riots and disputes as local Brazilian workers were treated differently than American ones, and the land was eventually sold back to the Brazilian government. While people do still live in some of the buildings, much of the city is abandoned.

Undeniably, though, the bones of the structures are aesthetically enticing. After all, the renovations of factories into lofts has a long history of creating subtly cool, brutalist-adjacent living spaces. Of course, understanding the needs of local residents and the climate, which Ford appeared to have ignored, would be integral for a renovation project.

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