It is in the big cities of the Third World, especially in their degraded suburbs, which goes into crisis the relationship between resources and population. The disorderly growth of urban starts a vicious circle of human degradation, labor exploitation, unemployment, disease and crime, issues that in most cases remain insoluble. You can imagine a model of urban development different?
The case of Curitiba shows are tackling the huge megalopolis through democracy, good governance and participation.
Founded in 1654, Curitiba is the capital of the state of Paraná and the largest conurbation in the south of Brazil. Despite a population growing at the rate of doubling every ten years, growing from 300,000 inhabitants in 1950 to about 2,500,000 today, has a level of comfort, safety, environmental protection, education, health and political stability, making it an example not only in the rest of Brazil, but also of most industrialized countries.
It all started in 1971 when Jaime Lerner, an expert on architecture and urbanism, the son of Polish immigrants, was elected mayor of Curitiba, for being so harmless to agree by the various political groups.
Lerner decided to begin its mandate by analyzing the urban structure, public transport and roads, basic elements for the proper functioning of the entire urban system. Unable to build a subway because of the shortage of municipal funds, had the brilliant idea of “metropolisation” buses, creating an integrated public transport, internationally recognized for the highest level of efficiency associated with low cost, which saved the total congestion in the city’s inhabitants.
Without any major upheavals in the historic center, the existing roads of Curitiba have been modified to achieve preferential corridors for buses, at the heart of great avenues to eight lanes, which cross the city in all directions. The speed of travel by public transport is still comparable to that of a metropolitan through traffic lights adjusted so you always have precedence. Stops are sealed glass tubes, which are accessed only after you buy your ticket. The platforms are parallel to the floor of the bus, to speed the descent and ascent of the passengers, and facilitate people with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility. At peak hours, the busiest lines depart every 30 seconds.
The bus carrying 79% of commuters, with a degree of user satisfaction 90%, decreased the traffic of private cars, traffic jams are gone, while the rate of pollution is greatly reduced. Public transport is complemented by over 200 km of cycle paths, isolated from traffic and connected with the main streets, bus stops and parks. An effective system that has cost hundreds of times cheaper than a subway and that finances itself entirely out of revenues from tickets.
The bus carrying 79% of commuters, with a degree of user satisfaction 90%
A further step was taken in 1972, creating the world’s first pedestrian Rua das Flores. According to legend, the work was carried out in a single weekend, to circumvent the possible reaction of traders, which could block the initiative with a complaint because they afraid to see bad business from the prohibition of access car in the middle. Work began on Friday, just one hour after the end of the court, transformed the way in paving a wide avenue, with flower beds, benches, lampposts.
The following Saturday, the cars tried to pass through the pedestrian zone, they were faced with hundreds of children busy painting on large rolls of paper, lying on the floor purposely by the mayor. A fun and still is a traditional event on Saturday morning for children of Curitiba, who want to unleash their creativity.
In two successive mandates, Lerner continued its innovative urban actions, also providing significant social measures, implemented through the participation and involvement of people in urban solutions to every problem.
His, in fact, is the concept of “urban acupuncture” or the idea of acting on the urban system through micro-interventions on the city’s key nodes, which are pressure points that can propagate the positive effects in other areas of the city.
Examples are the policies adopted to address poverty in the slums, initiatives that have made the slums of Curitiba the “best” in the world.
For the poor have been built 14 000 houses. To promote social inclusion and equity, has encouraged the construction of small size with arrangements: are distributed small plots of land where to build houses and create gardens for the self. Citizens can enjoy an hour of free advice from an architect of the town and purchase the materials of construction with funding from municipal long-term, paid off with a small monthly installments. To celebrate the construction of each new home the town offers a fruit tree and an ornamental.
The speculation is discouraged by particular attention to the clarity of plans and a “Geographical Computerised System, with which it is possible to have precise information on the entire urban fabric.
curitiba children creativity
On Saturday morning the children of Curitiba who want to unleash their creativity paint on large paper rolls
Every decision is taken but it does not rain down along with representatives of the people. Thanks to the proposals and suggestions of individuals have been taken a series of measures to complement the urban solutions that have improved the quality of life. A level of transparency in the decisions of public administration and democratic participation, which is not found in any other country in the world.
In contrast to the mode of development of each city, Curitiba has managed not only to preserve even to increase the green areas inside the perimeter through the construction of small ecosystems, which reflect the flora and fauna of the surrounding area. Every citizen has available an average of 55sqm Green, an area ten times higher than that recommended by the United Nations. To avoid costs associated with the purchase and maintenance of tractors and fuel, these parks are ingeniously edited by sheep “municipal.”
Very effective is the program of “green exchange”, a system devised by Lerner recycling to educate the people of Curitiba and to solve the health problems of the favelas.
Every day local delivery ticket in exchange for delivering waste to the poor of the slums, through narrow lanes that previously prevented the garbage trucks to enter and collect the garbage accumulated in the middle of the barracks and the edges of channels, with disastrous consequences from a health considerations.