The city of Curitiba provides the world with a model in how to integrate sustainable transport considerations into business development, road infrastructure development, and local community development.
With about 1.8 million residents, Curitiba occupies rolling terrain in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, far from Amazonia. High-rise dwellings and substantial density around thoughtfully planned transportation corridors characterize the urban core, relieved by green belts, parks, and a widely green landscape supported by extensive tree planting and strict tree preservation rules.
Curitiba first outlined its Master Plan in 1965. The Master Plan established the guiding principle that mobility and land use can not be disassociated with each other if the city’s future design is to succeed. In order to fulfill the goals of the Master Plan in providing access for all citizens, the main transport arteries were modified over time to give public transport the highest priority.
Curitiba is now increasingly well known for its long-term success in integrated land use, transportation, and environmental planning, including its exciting public bus system. It also has an extensive program of public architecture that helps animate the urban fabric of the city, weaving together parks and open space, tourism, urban identity, and industrial reclamation.
Curitiba was one of the first cities to have a pedestrian area. This was thanks to Jaime Lerner, a planner by profession, being appointed mayor in 1971.
In 1972, the historic boulevard the Rua Quinze de Novembro, was converted virtually overnight, into a pedestrian area. Workman planted tens of thousands of flowers. The street was closed on the Friday night, when it reopened 48 hours later, it was a pedestrian area. Shopkeepers had threatened to sue for loss of trade, by midday Monday, they were petitioning for the surrounding streets to be pedestrianised.
Curitiba’s public architecture helps to remind us that beauty in the manmade remains fundamental in our connection with the soul of a spirited place.
To learn from Curitiba, the rest of the world would have to break some longstanding habits. And the hardest habit to break, in fact, may be what Lerner calls the “syndrome of tragedy, of feeling like we’re terminal patients.” Many cities have “a lot of people who are specialists in proving change is not possible. What I try to explain to them when I go visit is that it takes the same energy to say why something can’t be done as to figure out how to do it.”
Read more on Curitiba here.
Map of Brazil with location of Curitiba.