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Lessons from Curitiba

This review will argue that Curitiba, in southern Brazil, is an important model of good urban planning. Urban planning deals with the physical, economic, and social development of cities. Today, urban populations are increasing rapidly, and growing cities are putting enormous pressure on the environment. For this reason, the type of urban planning found in Curitiba is more important than ever.

As stated in the introduction, Curitiba is a fine example of how urban planning can work. This has not always been the case, however. At one time, Curitiba faced the same problems as many other cities all over the world, namely overcrowding, pollution, and an increased demand for services, transport, and housing. How, then, did Curitiba address these problems?

By the 1940s the population of Curitiba had grown to about 150,000, as immigrants from countries such as Japan, Syria, and Lebanon came to work in agriculture and industry. These people needed both housing and transportation. Curitiba's leaders realized that it was not sensible to deal with these problems separately. Consequently, they employed a French planner and architect, Alfred Agache, to find an overall solution.

Agache studied all aspects of the problem. He designed a scheme which gave priority to public services such as sanitation and public transport. At the same time, the scheme included centres which helped both community life and commerce to develop, and reduced traffic congestion. This was the first scheme to address several problems of growing cities at the same time. Unfortunately, some parts of his plan were not completed. The result, as described below, was that his scheme only served Curitiba for -another 20 years.

By the 1960s the population of Curitiba had grown to about 430,000 inhabitants, so the city had to rethink its needs. In order to do this, the mayor put together a team of architects and town planners led by Jaime Lerner. This team produced the Curitiba Master Plan. This consisted of taking Agache's original plan and adding wide, high-speed roads which crossed the smaller streets. Their proposals also included plans to minimize urban growth, reduce city-centre traffic, and preserve the city's historic district. It is clear that the Curitiba Master Plan was one of the first attempts to integrate all aspects of city planning.

This integrated approach to urban design was maintained throughout the 1980s as Curitiba's population grew to almost one million inhabitants. Environmental facilities were added, such as a recycling programme for household waste, and parks and 'green' spaces were protected from development. However, good transportation remained central to the planning.

Good transportation still remains a priority, together with the need for jobs. A growing population needs employment, business parks and centres have been added to encourage new small businesses. All these challenges will continue as the population of Curitiba increases, but its city planners are continually searching for solutions to the problems.

It is apparent that, as an increasing number of people move into cities, the challenges for urban planners will also grow. Many other cities are looking to Curitiba for answers. Its planners have been courageous and innovative, and have always put the city's inhabitants at the centre of their designs. Other city planners could benefit greatly from this experience.


11. Answer the questions:

1. What three aspects of development does urban planning deal with?

2. What problems do many cities face?

3. What was the main cause of the increase in Curitiba's population before the 1940s?

4. In what ways was Agache's approach different?

5. What happened to Agache's plan?

6. What did the Curitiba Master Plan do?

7. What was new about the approach to planning in the 1980s?

8. What is new about the approach to planning now?

9. What is the writer's opinion of the Curitiba experience of urban planning?


12. Read the text and decide which answer (А, В, С or D) best fits each space:

Reports that the government is about to (1) …… the go ahead to plans for the building of a new runway at London's Gatwick airport have angered local (2) …… and raised fears of increased noise and exhaust pollution. The (3) ……............ plans also include permission for additional night flights and will (4) …… the compulsory purchase of farmland, (5) …… the demolition of a number of private homes. According to sources close to the Ministry of Transport, the government is known to be concerned by the increasing (6) …… of traffic at London Heathrow, where there are no plans for further runways in the foreseeable (7) ……. . Gatwick is widely (8) ………..as a better (9) ……… for expansion than London's third airport, Stansted, which still (10) …… from poor transport links. A spokesperson for the Keep Gatwick Quiet association, (11) ……up of local people, accused the government of (12) …… back on promises made before the General Election. We were told then that the airport authority had no (13) …… of building another runway and we believe that the government has a duty to (14) …… its pledges. Prominent figures in the government are also believed to be concerned at the news, although the Prime Minister, interviewed last night, is (15) …… as saying that reports were 'misleading'. However, he would not give an assurance that plans for building a runway had definitely been rejected.

1) A sign В make С give D approve

2) A inhabitants В dwellers С occupants D residents

3) A controversial В debatable С notorious D doubtful

4) A involve В concern С assume D need

5) A further to В as well as С moreover D what's more

6) A sum В size С volume D length

7) A years В period С time D future

8) A regarded В believed С felt D held

9)A potential В outlook С prospect D likelihood

10) A affects В undergoes С experiences D suffers

11) A made В set С brought D taken

12) A getting В falling С going D turning

13) A desire В intention С wish D objective

14) A bear out В count on С pull off D stand by

15) A quoted В known С thought D written


13. Integrated task:

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