In Rio de Janeiro, an ambitious two-phase regeneration plan for the port area has been underway since 2009, and predicted to be completed in time to shine in the spotlight of Rio’s 2016 Olympic games. The project is groundbreaking for the city, as it integrates cultural, historical, environmental and infrastructure interventions. It is the largest public-private partnership ever to be undertaken in Brazil, and one of few port revitalization projects to take place in a still operational port.
On Sunday June 17, ITDP Brazil organized “Sustainability in Port Zone Revitalization Projects: Porto Maravilha and other Success Cases”, at the Mayor’s Summit in the City of Rio’s Rio+20 events space in Copacabana. The event was developed as a partnership between ITDP, C40 and CDURP (The Port of Rio de Janeiro Urban Regeneration Company) and included panelists from Melbourne, Copenhagen, and New York.
The panel reviewed the environmental, heritage, and social inclusion benefits anticipated by the “Porto Maravilha” (“Marvelous Port”) project, which aims to revitalize the 5 million square meter port area of Rio de Janeiro through a process of major urban interventions, ranging from quadrupling the residential population, increasing the quality and range of services available, reducing noise and air pollution, and increasing green space from 2.5% to 11%. Alberto Silva, Advisor to the Director of CDURP, presented the project, which occupies an important area of central Rio de Janeiro, alongside the city’s financial center, and is close to many of Rio’s iconic tourist attractions. The panel then introduced best practice examples from port revitalization experiences in the cities of Melbourne and Copenhagen in presentations made by Michelle Isles and Claus Bjorn Billehoj respectively.
ITDP Technical Director of Urban Development, Luc Nadal, commented that “The Port of Rio represents a new generation of project. History is made there, as Brazil is now shifting from the 20th century’s car-oriented model of planning to a people-oriented compact city model accessible by walking, cycling, and a complete public transport system.” He also outlined the principles of sustainable urban mobility and how they could be applied to further enhance Rio’s port redevelopment project.
Trent Lethco, Leader of the Integrated Planning Team from Arup in New York made the final presentation of the panel, highlighting key elements of any successful port revitalization project, which include integration of solutions at a site level, capacity building of staff, and a strong vision at the city level, and a shared vision at the regional level. He also emphasized that experience in New York has proven that pilot projects are an excellent way to test ideas, and build support for regeneration processes.
The event took place at the prestigious “Humanidade 2012” complex sponsored by the city of Rio. The temporary structure, created by famous Brazilian artist and set designer Bia Lessa, is constructed entirely of materials which will be reused after the event ends.