Learning from Curitiba

In June, 2009
In Curitiba, Brazil

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Learning from Curitiba:
Be a master of your life.
Take an action.
Change yourself, change your society and change your world.

This city isn’t probably the most beautiful.
But I’ve never seen a city (in this scale) with so many parks like Curitiba. And little by little, you realize that people here have been making their own city and politics in an very active way; their parks, transportaion system, many social/culturel programs and big efforts for the sustainble development.

In 1964, Mayor Ivo Arzua solicited proposals for urban design. Architect Jaime Lerner, who later became mayor, led a team from the Universidade Federal do Paraná that suggested strict controls on urban sprawl, a reduction of traffic in the downtown area, preservation of Curitiba’s Historic Sector, and a convenient and affordable public transit system This plan, known as the Curitiba Master Plan, was adopted in 1968. Lerner closed XV de Novembro St. to vehicles, because it had very high pedestrian traffic. The plan had a new road design to minimise traffic: the Trinary Road System. This uses two one-way streets moving in opposite directions which surround a smaller, two-lane street where the express buses have their exclusive lane. Five of these roads form a star that converges on the city centre. Land farther from these roads is zoned for lower density developments, to reduce traffic away from the main roads. In a number of areas subject to floods, buildings were condemned and the land became parks. 

Today, Curitiba is considered one of the best examples of urban planning worldwide. In June 1996, the chairman of the Habitat II summit of mayors and urban planners in Istanbul praised Curitiba as “the most innovative city in the country.” Curitiba, including, recently recommended by UNESCO as one of the city-model for the reconstruction of the cities of Afghanistan,after the U.S military intervention occurred in that country in 2001.

 In the 1980s, the RIT (Rede Integrada de Transporte, Integrated Transport Network) was created, allowing transit between any points in the city by paying just one fare. At the same time, the city began a project called the “Faróis de Saber” (Lighthouses of Knowledge). These Lighthouses are free educational centers which include libraries, Internet access, and other cultural resources. Job training, social welfare and educational programs are coordinated, and often supply labor to improve the city’s amenities or services, as well as education and income.

 Curitiba is referred to as the ecological capital of Brazil, with a network of 28 parks and wooded areas. In 1970, there was less than 1 square meter of green space per person; now there are 52 square meters for each person. Residents planted 1.5 million trees along city streets. Builders get tax breaks if their projects include green space. Flood waters diverted into new lakes in parks solved the problem of dangerous flooding, while also protecting valley floors and riverbanks, acting as a barrier to illegal occupation, and providing aesthetic and recreational value to the thousands of people who use city parks.

 In 2007 the city was the third place in a list of “15 Green Cities” in the world, according the American site “Grist”. As a result, according to one survey, 99% of Curitibans are happy with their hometown. The “green exchange” employment program focuses on social inclusion, benefiting both those in need and the environment. Low-income families living in shantytowns unreachable by truck bring their trash bags to neighborhood centers, where they exchange them for bus tickets and food. This means less city litter and less disease, less garbage dumped in sensitive areas such as rivers and a better life for the undernourished poor. There’s also a program for children where they can exchange recyclable garbage for school supplies, chocolate, toys and tickets for shows.

 Under the “garbage that’s not garbage” program, 70% of the city’s trash is recycled by its residents. Once a week, a truck collects paper, cardboard, metal, plastic and glass that has been sorted in the city’s homes. The city’s paper recycling alone saves the equivalent of 1,200 trees a day. As well as the environmental benefits, money raised from selling materials goes into social programs, and the city employs the homeless and recovering alcoholics in its garbage separation plant. Open University, created by the city, lets residents take courses in many subjects such as mechanics, hair styling and environmental protection for a small fee. Retired city buses are often used as mobile schools or offices. Downtown areas were transformed into pedestrian streets, including a 24-hour mall with shops, restaurants and cafes, and a street of flowers with gardens tended by street kids 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curitiba

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Article similaire en français : http://www.inti.be/ecotopie/curitiba.html

 

Universidade livre do meio ambiente (Open university of the environment)