We were at:
September 27, 2010 - Johannesburg, South Africa film festival,
Cape Town, and other Ivory Coast Cities (Also in 2007-2008-2009)
Architects' Colletive South Africa
April 23rd - July 18th, 2010 - Berlin, Germany film screening as part of the exhibition titled "Post-Oil City
Clic Here for more info
March 27th, 2010 - Miami, Florida
January 29th - March 20th, 2010 - Suttgart, Germany as part of the exhibition titled "Post-Oil City."
RIBA 174 Anniversary Celebration, London November 4 and 8, 2009
Ecocity World Summit 2008
GoodVibrations Radio Talk 2008
International Women's Forum Leadership
Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, October 15-17, 2008
The Curitiba Story
by Paul Ellson
Sep 15, 2008
Positive News Issue 57
"When things arent working out, its wise to deal with
the root of the problem. This often takes courage but when we
get the basics right, the rest flows naturally. This is true for
any aspect of life and it works on any scale. Take cities for
instance: the typical city is a huge, clogged network, designed
long before mass motoring and now jammed with vehicles, their
emissions and noise.
Usually, the average planners response is to make more
room for traffic, leading to even more vehicles and pollution.
However, three decades ago, one city, Curitiba in Brazil, boldly
addressed its traffic problems at root and consequently found
that, with vision and willpower, all aspects of city life could
What prompted this approach? In the 1940s Curitibas population
was around 150,000 and by the 1980s, it was one million. This
rapidly expanding city had little money to spend and so, great
wisdom and courage were required. Curitiba is now a city of two
million souls and an inspiring example of urban development. This
is the Curitiba story.
In 1972, the traffic and pollution in and around the city centre
had reached unmanageable proportions. At this stage, planners
would normally analyse traffic volume and then invest in creating
more capacity wider streets, overpasses, underpasses, or
even an underground, subway, rail system. Curitibas officials
though, decided that people should come first, not cars. They
decided to be innovative and to take one step at a time. The first
would be to close the busiest street to cars. The shopkeepers
were angry; they had no experience of pedestrian precincts and
fearing loss of trade, they vowed to fight the change.
Mayor Jaime Lerner, an architect and civil engineer, could see
the bigger picture and decided upon a plan: the work would be
done so quickly, there would be no time for objections. One evening,
teams of engineers swooped upon the area and worked overnight.
It was a fait accompli. That area was now people friendly
and, very quickly, the shopkeepers discovered they were getting
more business, not less. Soon, the nearby traders were calling
for the precinct to be increased. Encouraged, Mayor Lerner and
his team decided to put people first on a citywide basis.
Creating a subway system at 100 million dollars per square kilometer,
was out of the question, so too, grand scale road works. Instead,
architect Rafael Dely designed the Trinary Road System with dedicated
public transport lanes.
Curitiba had three wide, parallel roads passing through its centre.
The long-term plan was to create the equivalent of a subway system
above ground level. Now, the central road was given over to a
bus rapid transit system and local access traffic. The roads either
side became one-way thoroughfares. This greatly reduced jams and
speeded traffic flow. To encourage use of public transport in
the future, city planners did not allow any new commercial buildings
in the old city unless they were close to bus stops. Furthermore,
they planned city expansion along five, well-served, axial routes.
In 1979, Mayor Lerner introduced the Rede Integrada de Transporte RIT, an integrated bus transport system, where citizens
pay once to go anywhere in the city. Also, under this scheme,
the companies running the various buses are paid, not by the travellers
but by the city, at a rate per kilometer, travelled by each bus.
Passengers pay prior to embarkation at tube stations
along the routes and there are bus stops every 500 metres. In
1980, articulated buses were introduced to increase capacity and
the public system became more popular.
In 1992, to further emulate a subway system, larger biarticulated
buses 25 metres long and capable of carrying 270 passengers
were brought in. Now, RIT included a three colour-coded
service: Biarticulated (red), Speedy (grey for longer distances,
non-stop) and Local (orange), linking in the outlying towns, all
for use on one ticket. Already cheaper than car travel, public
transport became even more efficient, reliable and easier. It
flourishes to this day, operating like a subway system. At peak
times, there is a bus every 50 seconds!
Curitiba has a transport system admired worldwide. It has been
adopted, partially, by some Western cities but Jaime Lerner says
that the system must be fully implemented to gain the full potential:
a city that is pleasant to get around and to live in, with reduced
traffic, reduced fuel consumption and reduced pollution. Bogotá,
the capital of Colombia, has adopted the system fully.
Housing and Education
Like most cities, particularly in South America, Curitiba has
grown rapidly over the recent decades. During fast growth, shanty
towns develop where people without skills find themselves in a
poverty trap. Curitibas planners decided that these newcomers
should be integrated into productive city life as soon as possible
and that, for rich or poor, there should be no ghettos. Low-income
developments were therefore brought close to the city centre.
Having designed the road system so well, as the routes expanded,
the planners were able to integrate new housing and business developments
more easily. They focused on affordable housing, free business
installations, free training and other innovations including Autogestão,
where the population participates in housing development and planning
issues. This offsets the lobbying of the privileged few and enables
holistic solutions to be conceived and applied.
As the citys population increased, commercial development
grew along the roadside radiating from the centre. The municipality
provided schools, clinics and daycare centres. Special warehouses
were also built as business incubators. Many newcomers
had no job skills - here they received free education with classes
designed to meet workforce needs. They were trained with guaranteed
employment upon course completion and could open their own businesses
within the incubation warehouses.
Housing developments also included specially designed homes for
those who wanted to start their own business. Budding entrepreneurs
were allowed to buy their own place and received free training
and assistance for up to two years. In these properties, the commercial
space is located on the ground floor with the accommodation above.
The population continued to expand and increase pressure on the
housing market. To help reduce the number of migrants to the city,
Vilas Rurais was launched to improve the quality of life in rural
areas. Schools and health centres were built in outlying villages
and a project called Cambio Verde was initiated.
Through this scheme the city buys excess crops and exchanges
them for recyclable materials that are collected by the citys
shanty town dwellers. The citys poor receive food and the
regions farmers make a living. With the introduction of
Cambio Verde, city rubbish collection increased with no extra
cost to the municipality.
As Curitibas shanty towns expanded, they spread along riverbank
areas liable to flood. Access for rubbish collection vehicles
was difficult and the city did not have the resources to adequately
increase their collection fleet.
Civil Engineer Nicolau Klüppel came up with an idea that
was to win him a United Nations award. His idea was to get shanty
dwellers to collect waste in exchange for bus passes. This was
feasible because the bus operators were paid per bus-kilometer
rather than per passenger journey. There was a great response,
so a waste recycling centre was created and a campaign called
Trash that is not trash was launched. The aim was
to keep the city clean, reduce landfill and generate income. Within
three months, 70 per cent of Curitiban homes were separating their
rubbish for recycling.
Today, the recycling business in Curitiba has reached maturity,
with 80 per cent of city recyclables collected by the poor, who
then sell the materials on to private companies. Many earn twice
the minimum wage for their efforts.
The recycling centre gives meaningful employment to those under
care, such as drug addicts. These constitute about 50 per cent
of the workforce. All employees are encouraged to move on to better
jobs; they are trained in IT skills on recycled computers. Whilst
the centres main income is from selling materials to private
recycling companies, it also creates new products from old; for
example, toothpaste tubes are turned into roofing tiles.
As well as the main recycling area, the centre has teaching and
conference rooms, a playground and museum. It is an education
hub, where all ages can learn about and get involved in all the
recycling processes. Any profits go to city charities.
Parkland from Floodplain
Each year, in the rainy season, areas of Curitiba suffered from
flooding as the local rivers broke their banks. By 1966, there
were already shanty towns on the riverbanks; this was a dangerous
situation. Having realised that forming canals and embankments
would transfer flood problems downstream rather than stop them,
Nicolau Klüppel proposed turning floodplains into seasonal
parks. Floodplain dwellers were given compensation that enabled
them to move elsewhere and work began.
River bends are helpful in controlling water volume and so Nicolaus
proposal respected each rivers meandering shape. Lakes were
excavated in each park to act as flood control areas. When the
rivers rise, the lakes become filled, letting their volume out
slowly so as not to create flooding downstream.
There are 30 parks in the city and each park is different. For
example, Iguaçu Park is for wildlife. Tangua Park, close
to the city centre, is a recreational area. It has an old quarry
that has been transformed by a waterfall and river tunnel. Barigui
Park has restaurants, playgrounds, walkways and a convention centre.
São Lourenço Park is known for its concerts. In
every park, there are sheep that have been brought in to keep
the grass short. Over the years, the cost of creating these beautiful
parks has been covered by property taxes paid on homes that were
built overlooking the landscape.
In 1960, the green area of Curitiba was measured at 0.5 metres
square per inhabitant but now, it is 80 metres square per inhabitant
more than three times the minimum amount recommended by
the World Health Organisation. With more recreational space, tourism
has increased too. It is calculated that all this has been achieved
for just 20 per cent of the cost of canalisation. As with the
transport, housing and recycling projects, the seasonal parks
have been an extremely effective investment for the city.
A Convenient Truth
Curitiba has lessons for all other urban conurbations. A poor
city has been transformed into one of the greenest and most livable
cities in the world.
If every city implemented solutions like those in Curitiba,
we would not be having the current climate problems, says
Mayor Jaime Lerner. We have to work fast because we dont
have a lifetime to do things and we dont have the right
to sacrifice future generations waiting for projects to be completed.
We at Positive News encourage planners, interested individuals
and groups to watch: A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions
from Curitiba, Brazil an inspiring documentary, available
from Website: www.mariavazphoto.com/curitiba [Just remember to
pay copyrights fee]
Story from A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba,
a film by Giovanni Vaz Del Bello. Produced by Maria Terezinha
ISSUES | LOCAL MEMBERS | CALGARY NEWS & EVENTS | RESOURCES
Hollywood vs. Reality January 2008 Blog this:Digg it del.icio.us
The 11th Hour and A Convenient Truth
By Stephanie Jackman
"The 11th Hour, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, is
a gorgeous film. The cinematography, particularly the aerial footage
of our blue-green planet, is stunning. If Leo’s goal was to inspire
appreciation for the environment, he succeeded. Beautiful scenery,
however, is not enough to elicit behavioural change, and surely
that was the film’s intent. Instead of guiding me toward responsible
action, it belaboured the reasons I should be concerned while
relentlessly assaulting me with images of the tsunami in Thailand,
Hurricane Katrina, and other natural disasters. Enough already.
I felt genuine panic but learned little about how to avert the
grim fate awaiting humanity. In that respect, it was typical of
the environmental genre. It spent too much time scaring the wits
out of me and not enough time proposing solutions. It didn’t offer
enough tools to help me “Turn mankind’s darkest hour into its
finest.”Irrefutable evidence that climate change is the problem
of the 21st century has long been mounting. I don’t need filmmakers
to further convince me that global warming is real. I know there’s
a problem. I believe I’m part of the solution. I left the theatre
wondering if anyone could tell me what that solution is.
Then I saw A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba,
Brazil. I was moved, inspired, filled with hope.Compared to the
storm cloud of The 11th Hour, this documentary is a ray of sunshine.
Give us more films and books like this, and maybe we’ll solve
the problem after all.A Convenient Truth is narrated by Giovanni
Vaz Del Bello and produced by Maria Terezinha Vaz. It shows how
Curitiba has become one of the world’s most sustainable cities
by building affordable housing, revamping public transportation,
creating park land, and getting serious about recycling.Interviews
with city officials reveal the obstacles, costs and timelines
associated with Curitiba’s sustainability renaissance. Interviews
with citizens demonstrate how the resulting changes have benefited
the city and its people. If you want beautiful scenery spiced
with celebrity watch The 11th Hour and listen to Leo’s pleas for
change. If you want to learn how to begin making the necessary
changes, watch A Convenient Truth. It’s only half as long. I count
it among the most valuable 53 minutes I’ve recently spent.
. Visit The 11th Hour website. It suggests how kids, students,
adults, business leaders, and elected officials can make a difference.
The film provides little practical advice, but the website is
. Watch A Convenient Truth and be inspired by how simple and
inexpensive it is to create systemic change. Visit Maria’s website
to buy the DVD. Write to your alderman. Urge him or her to watch
A Convenient Truth. Ask what he or she is doing to advance recycling
programs, increase access to public transportation, and provide
affordable housing in Calgary.
. Start an action group, or join an existing one. Connect with
others around the world seeking to stem the effects of global
warming. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own
site. Join The Conversation - Leave A Comment: Name (required)
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"A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil 7 comments
May 16, 2008 in Media, Sustainability
curitiba-front-web-a-convenient.jpgWhen discussing the world most progressive “eco” cities one might toss out San Francisco for it various green initiatives (such as banning plastic bags), New York City for its effective subway system, or Munich with it’s use of alternative energy especially solar but after watching this recent documentary “A Convenient Truth: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil” some people may change their green tune. The film highlights the surprisingly progressive sustainable city and using urban examples to highlight various topics into well paced film.
First time director Giovanni Vaz Del Bello neatly divides the film down into four areas of innovation: Transportation, Recycling, Affordable Housing and Urban Parks. Convenient Truth shows how convenient the transportation remains in this million plus city. Their progressive mayors like Jamie Lerner, city planners and designers determined that the city should revolve around people, not cars. From the cost-effective yet expansive bus system (with the notable bus station tubes) to the pedestrian-only walkways, then documentary highlights how effective, people friendly and sustainable changes can be made with minimal or no cost.
Cinematographer Maria Terezinha (who also produced) captures energizing city images that encompass the film’s other topics. When cities like New York City often can’t afford to keep their recycling program going, A Convenient Truth shows how Curitiba offers programs that not only clean most of the cityscape but have created a subset of employment based around recycling all while keeping within the city budget. The film addresses social justice with a section about low-cost urban housing and finally how city parks have not only beatified the city but have increased property values (and thus property taxes) as well as prevented floods that used to ravage the city.
The film makes interesting parallels toward New Orleans (and hurricane Katrina) as well as some Bay Area eyesores that could get a clue from the solutions found in Curitiba. Although the film suffers slightly from low production value and the sound quality wavers the docu-feature offers an interesting topic of a city that most people know little if anything about."