Fordlândia, region of Pará, Brazil

     The History :

At the beginning of the 20th century, the American industrialist Henri Ford was forced to buy the rubber from the English to equip its automobiles. Indeed, England had a monopoly on the intensive exploitation of the rubber through rubber plantations in its colonies of South East Asia. As the United States had no colonies where to cultivate its own rubber, Henri Ford negotiated the purchase for a low price, a huge territory in the heart of the Amazon in Brazil. 

On the  banks of the Rio Tapajós, Henri Ford cleared a million hectares of forest and established in 1928 a city, Fordlandia, a true utopian project  of civilization of the Amazon. In addition to the factories and an iconic watertank distributing water punctuating the landscape with fire pumps, the city had a school, a hospital, and residential neighborhoods with houses built in the style of the architecture of Michigan. 

By incompetence and ignorance, the plantation and the urban project was a total fiasco. In the 1930s, Henri Ford moved his project a few hundreds of kilometers North, in Belterra, where again, he built a town on an American model. But it also was a complete failure. Henri Ford has never managed to exploit the slightest drop of rubber, in Fordlândia or Belterra, and the territory was finally returned to Brazil in 1945.

Henri Ford has never set a foot in Brazil.

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Suspended spaces

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Trip to Fordlândia and Belterra

Fordlândia and Belterra, August 22 - September 4, 2017

On a first visit on the spot, the collective Suspended spaces discovered a village of 800 inhabitants in the middle of the remains of the industrial city. The factories are still very present, partly in ruins but guarded. Inside, some machines remain in working condition, maintained by residents. Upstairs, brazil nuts are drying.

Some American villas are occupied thus saving with a certain pride the Ford heritage. The other houses are falling apart.

The rubber  warehouse along the Rio Tapajós has been beautifully restored but is not used a lot. 

The hospital, built by the German architect Albert Kahn (very active in Detroit), burned recently and there's almost nothing left.

The cemetery, although very isolated and marked by signs of abandonment, is still used by the inhabitants of Fordlândia. The graves from the american time which used to be ligned up  are now scattered and the crosses are knocked down. 

The former refectory became a private house. We did not have access to the community center.

With Marcel Dinahet, Valérie Jouve, Jan Kopp, Jacinto Lageira, Daniel Lê, Andre Parente, Françoise Parfait, Eric Valette.

meeting of waters of the Amazone and the Rio Tapajos, Santarem

Presentation of the collective and the Suspended spaces project in the Fotoativa building, Belém

ilha das Onças, Belém

Arriving in Fordlândia


Fordlândia hospital - ruin of the Albert Kahn building

Fordlândia Factory - first floor - Jan Kopp experimentations

Fordlândia - Valérie Jouve

Amazone River - Marcel Dinahet

Fordlândia - the inhabitants look after the machines

Fordlândia - meetings with the inhabitants who occupy old american buildings (left refectory and right American villas)

Fordlândia - ancient refectory

Fordlândia - cemetery

Fordlândia - ancient villas of the Ford company managers

Fordlândia - Rubber wharehouse

Fordlândia - ancient villa of the Ford Company manager

Fordlândia- School

Fordlândia - inside of the factory

Left : Lago Verde, Alter do Chao.

Right : rubber extraction,Tapajos National Forest.

Left : Arriving in Belterra, Henri Ford ‘s second project, a hundred of kilometers north from Fordlândia.

Right : visit of the small Henry Ford Museum in Belterra.

Belterra, road n°1

Belterra, water tank and horn. The horn of the Ford’s factory still rings 4 times a day


Santarém -  consulting the archives on Fordlândia and Belterra at the Instituto Cultural Boanerges Sena.