This article examines the Brazilian mutirão, an incremental social housing model that was prolific across the Global South since the late 1970s, and linked to right to the city movements in Brazil. I make three arguments for guiding the mutirão’s contemporary translation. First, incremental housing models, and the mutirão in particular, are a form of architecture production that reproduces sociospatial segregation. Second, this unevenness was widely debated in the 1970s, yet generally forgotten or ignored by the discipline of architecture. Third, drawing on a large scale study of incremental housing in São Paulo (NSF#1513395), I argue that the mutirão’s most recent variations reveal incremental housing’s actual agency, beyond typological historicism. Doing so can help the work of architecture to transform and better serve contemporary housing issues globally.