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Contemporary Urbanism Brazil

Beyond Brasília

Edited by Vicente del Rio and William Siembieda

Publication Year: 2009

For decades, a succession of military regimes and democratic governments in Brazil sought to shape the future of their society through the manipulation of urban spaces. Planned cities were built that reflected the ideals of high modernism, and urban designers and planners created clean-cut minimalist spaces that reflected the hope for an idyllic future in a still-developing nation. But these cities were criticized as "utopian dreams" in a country plagued with the urban realities of rampant sprawl and the infamous slums known as favelas.

In this international collection of essays, architects, urban planners, and scholars assess the legacy of Brazilian urbanism to date. They evaluate the country's experiments with modernism and examine how Brazilian cities are regenerating themselves within a democratic political framework that meets market and social demands, and respects place, culture, and history.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright

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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi

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pp. xiii-xvi

Almost all, if not all, design professionals know of the design of Brasília and can sketch a conceptual diagram of the city’s layout. Many laypeople know of it too. Many people know of the planning and design of Curitiba during the 1980s and 1990s, for it has been widely described in the popular media. The experience there has already...

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Preface: What Can We Learn from Brazilian Urbanism?

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pp. xvii-xxx

Large cities around the world are in the process of reinventing themselves and learning how to deal with the contradictions of urbanism. Cities are more heterogeneous, more politicized, more plural, and more pragmatic than ever. The links between the global and the local reflect a process of adaptation more than schemes of grandeur...

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pp. xxxi-xxxii

Editing and writing a book is no easy task, and each book presents new challenges. The many challenges represented by the preparation of Contemporary Brazilian Urbanism: Beyond Brasília were not overcome by the editors alone, but required the help of many individuals and institutions that we wish to acknowledge. First, our contributing...

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Introduction: Historical Background

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pp. 1-36

This introduction discusses the evolution of urbanism in Brazil, beginning with the birth of modernism, then covering the military regime, the democratic movements of the 1980s, the expansion of the notion of urban intervention, and, finally, the multiplicity of approaches to tackle the city at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Our...

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Part 1. Late Modernism: The Struggle to Control City Form and Function

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pp. 37-41

In the preface and introduction we discussed how deeply modernism has penetrated Brazilian culture, planning, and design. The positivist paradigm inherent in modernism still dominates most thinking, particularly through the notion that urban development is intrinsically good and represents a positive evolution, and that there is a...

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1. Brasília: Permanence and Transformations

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pp. 42-64

The capital of Brazil since 1960, Brasília was born from a plan created by Lucio Costa and chosen in a public competition. The competition called for a Plano Piloto, a pilot or basic master layout plan, for the capital city, and according to the panel the winning proposal had indeed the aspect of a civitas. The structure of the plan was based on...

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2. Challenges for New Town Design in a Frontier Region: Palmas

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pp. 65-81

Throughout its history the Brazilian state has employed urban development in a search for progress and modernity. From colonial times, urban expansion has always been seen as necessary for the conquest of unoccupied territory in regions considered “backward”: the great rain forests, the sertão (arid regions in the Northeast), and the...

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3. The Vertical Cityscape in São Paulo: The Influence of Modernism in Urban Design

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pp. 82-103

Verticalization has become a dominant factor influencing urban form in many Brazilian cities. This essay considers the isolated tower on a lot and the complex of towers in a block as the hegemonic models that resulted from the Brazilian modernist paradigm, and discusses how they have configured São Paulo’s contemporary cityscape...

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4. The Shopping Centers Shaping the Brazilian City: Two Case Studies in São Paulo

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pp. 104-119

In only about forty years, since the first one was inaugurated in 1966, shopping centers have become a dominant feature of the Brazilian urbanscape. In Brazil, shopping centers took the form of large retail complexes—which normally include anchor stores—under a single roof and with dedicated parking facilities. Now, after...

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Part 2. Revitalization: The Struggle to Make the Best of the Existing City

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pp. 121-124

In the 1980s the country’s return to democracy, the serious economic crisis, and the changing international development paradigms were reflected in increased community participation and in a demonstration that the modernist model was not the only possible one for planning and urban design. Officials in large Brazilian cities realized...

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5. The Cultural Corridor Project: Revitalization and Preservation in Downtown Rio de Janeiro

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pp. 125-143

Conceived at the beginning of the 1980s as the first revitalization project for downtown Rio de Janeiro, the Cultural Corridor represents a landmark in the planning and development of Brazilian cities. Both a pioneering and an integrative effort, the project includes not just the preservation of the city’s historical and cultural heritage...

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6. Revisiting the Pelourinho: Preservation, Cultural Heritage, and Place Marketing in Salvador, Bahia

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pp. 144-163

Tourism has been a goal in the development plans of the Brazilian northeastern state of Bahia since 1959. Bahia is where the first Portuguese arrived in 1500 and where they founded the city of Salvador in 1549, which was to become Brazil’s first capital during most of the colonial period—from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries...

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7. Riverfront Revitalization in the Amazon: The Case of Belém

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pp. 164-180

Over the last decade several of Brazil’s port cities have been experiencing projects intended to improve the quality of their built landscape, not only in order to reestablish closer relations with their unique historical, geographical, and cultural qualities in response to community pressure, but also to make themselves more competitive in...

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8. Redesigning Brownfields in Porto Alegre

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pp. 181-197

After a period of rapid industrial development and accelerated urbanization in the last half of the twentieth century, by the turn of the twenty-first century Brazilian society was fully aware of the negative consequences of these processes and of the finite nature of the country’s environmental resources. However, even though growth has...

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Part 3. Social Inclusion: The Struggle to Make a Better City for the Community

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pp. 199-201

This third and last trend of Brazilian contemporary urbanism concentrates on promoting social inclusion. In the introduction we discussed the evolution of Brazilian urbanism and how it achieved an important role in responding to the social agenda set forward by the 1988 National Constitution and the country’s re-democratization...

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9. Urban Design, Planning, and the Politics of Development in Curitiba

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pp. 202-223

Over the past several decades, Curitiba, Brazil, has been referred to as an environmentally sustainable “model city” and as a remarkable example of both a successful urban planning process and a large array of urban design projects that are attractive, innovative, functional, cost-effective, and replicable. This chapter examines urban...

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10. Reclaiming City Image and Street Livability: Projeto Rio Cidade, Rio de Janeiro

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pp. 224-245

Rio Cidade is a program begun in 1993 to revitalize commercial corridors and neighborhood centers as well as the image of Rio de Janeiro through urban design interventions. Each of its component projects aimed at making these areas perform better both functionally and socially by renovating public spaces and making them more...

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11. Reshaping the Metropolitan Territory: Contemporary Urban Interventions in São Paulo

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pp. 246-265

São Paulo, Brazil’s largest and economically most important urban area, is a city of incredible contradictions. Although the Greater São Paulo metropolitan area produces more than 25 percent of the country’s gross national product, little has been done to regenerate deteriorated urban spaces. With this in mind, this chapter seeks to answer...

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12. Upgrading Squatter Settlements into City Neighborhoods: The Favela-Bairro Program in Rio de Janeiro

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pp. 266-290

Favela-Bairro is a program for upgrading favelas (squatter settlements) and irregular subdivisions run by the city of Rio de Janeiro. It is considered innovative as a public policy for low-income populations, particularly for its recognition of the social, cultural, and political importance of favelas in the city. The irregular subdivisions...

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Conclusion: Lessons from Contemporary Brazilian Urbanism

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pp. 291-301

The time period for this book coincides with Brazil’s evolving democratization process since the end of military government rule in 1985. It is also the period when globalization started to gain strength in terms of changes in transnational capital, adjustments in the use of labor, and the emergence of what have come to be called...


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pp. 303-317


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pp. 319-320


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pp. 321


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pp. 323-331

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045344
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813035369
Print-ISBN-10: 0813035368

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 123 b&w illustrations, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2009