Brazil: mistakes and successes.

Aterro do Flamengo


Aterro do Flamengo,  Rio de Janeiro – Brazil.
Designed by Lota de Macedo Soares; Urban and architectural project: Affonso Reidy, Sergio Bernardes and Jorge Moreira; Landscape design: Roberto Burle Marx.

World Cup 2014


In 2007 when FIFA announced that the 2014 World Cup would be hosted in Brazil, it seems to be like a great opportunity for investments and improvements such as bigger airports, improvement on public transportation, and more secure and accessible stadiums. But things did not happened this way.

At first, any Brazilian was exited with the Word Cup, all we could hear on the streets was about the delay of the works (of those ones that they started), the expectation on violent protests and how the government could use the money in more important issues as health and education.

It is not fair say that Brazil failed, but we lost a great opportunity. If by one side, the 2013 protest put in question the urban problems, in other the frustration with the unfinished infrastructure works exposed problems that are directly related to our profession: the failure of the contracting model and the lack of project.

Analyzing the issue of contracting, is possible to notice that we have historically two hiring models in architecture: one absolutely subjective, sponsorship; and another absolutely objective, quantitative worksheet.

The first one has your roots in our tradition of Fine Arts. The king, the pope or the governor chooses his favorite architect and order him to work. The criterion of choice? The simple fact that this architect I the best known, everybody knows that. Our patron Oscar Niemeyer, used and abused this form of hiring throughout his career, it is quite impossible find a competition won by Niemeyer (the second place in the competition for the Brazilian Pavilion in New York, 1938, is what comes closest).

In the case of the World Cup, the “public knowledge” was used in almost in stages, with no even one competition. Half of the 8 billion spent in the 12 stadiums came from state government (direct investment), the other half of federal loans. In other words, each governor with pen and checkbook on hand, called his favorite architect.

The second contracting model has its origins on the polytechnic tradition. Since here the aesthetic is less important, the building is transformed into quantitative materials and services, and the winner is the one that present the lowest price to the worksheet. The process that should be absolutely objective and rational stumbles into the problem that a design is hardly the same as another design even though its quantitative are very similar. Is like buy a car: the choice at the lowest price that works well for new cars is a disaster for used cars. We hired million cubic meters of concrete and thousands of square meters of terrain, but the urban design remains weak and mediocre.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Brazilian current bidding model that guarantees the quality of the architecture. Even when mounted on technical and price equations, the technique comes as project execution certificates. If such projects are good or bad, does not matter to the law whether attended or not the program, and generated or not a better city.

The World Cup did not leave a big legacy to the cities, but at least served as a catalyst for a debate that Brazil need to have urgently. For example: what if instead of giving coefficient of utilization as incentive for hotels we did the same with social housing in city centers? How much would it cost and what would be the impact on both the quality of life of the centers abandoned during the night and in the reduction of dislocations? And if the BNDES (National development bank) rather than lend to lend administrators stadiums consortia, with the same subsidized interest rates and longer terms, to reform abandoned buildings in urban center? What if instead of  PAC-Cup (Growth Acceleration Program) had one PAC-Urban Waters for renaturation of streams and transforming their flooded margins linear parks?

The World Cup has attracted global attention to Brazil, emphasizing the domestic problems, and I hope that it also create an opportunity to rethink our priorities and rethink the institutions and processes necessary to achieve these priorities.


UIA 2020 Rio


Some good results for architecture and urban designers can be seen through the innumerous works that continue to happen in Brazil after the Word Cup, especially in cities that will receive another events such as Rio with the Olympic Games and now the 27th World Congress of Architects (UIA) in 2020, where almost 15 hundred architects and urban planners will get together to discuss the about the future of the cities upon the theme “All the Worlds. Just One World. Architecture 21”.

This event show that Brazil started to think about the diversity of urban question. The 21 century World is an urban World, and the problems that Brazil have now reproduce in many other urbanized cities. With a period of six years to prepare for the event, the expectation of the IAB (Institute of Brazilian Architects) is to bring big names in architecture to discuss the problem of predatory expansion of cities. The Rio de Janeiro goes through a current moment of transformation that with the rescue of a rich historical past, projects a future development. Rio has unique features: it is a metropolis, framed by lush nature and a diverse architecture, has great social challenges.

Cities become metropolises very quickly and Rio exemplifies several mistakes and successes. This exchange of information with other countries is important to discuss ways to improve the lives of people in the city

Themes such as nature preservation and urban grow certainly will be discuss, cities become metropolises very quickly and Rio exemplifies several mistakes and successes. This exchange of information with other countries is important to discuss ways to improve the lives of people in the city. Also the favelas is an issue that matters a lot to the third world, reflect how humans are building your space, since it cannot be absorbed by market mechanisms.

Education cannot be left out, the formation of architects and professionals whose disciplines are articulated to architecture and urban planning, as geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, should be analyzed, after all, we and our partners are the most responsible in this fight for quality of life in cities for all.

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