Associate Professor Jason Brody traveled to Rio de Janiero for the 2016 World Planning Schools Congress
His Instagram posts from @LedReady take you along on his journey.
This summer I traveled to Rio de Janeiro to present research at the 2016 World Planning Schools Congress. Rio is a fascinating city of contrasts – a mixture of old and new, a global metropolis in a developing country, the birthplace of Samba and Bossa Nova music as well as headquarters for big mining and oil companies. During the trip I often heard from locals that Brazilians migrated to Sao Paulo for work and Rio for play; I managed to do a bit of both in my short visit.
The conference was held on the campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio.
Botafogo is home to Rio’s famed Sugarloaf Mountain. Here you can see the Cristo Redentor statue atop Corcovado mountain in the distance, framed through the cables of Sugarloaf’s cable car, with Botafogo in the foreground.
Fifty percent of formal economy jobs in the entire metropolitan region are located in Rio’s downtown, an astoundingly high figure and cause for a tremendous amount of congestion. The downtown is surrounded by neighborhoods built up the side of the mountains that surround the city.
Downtown is a melange of different eras, with skyscrapers and 1960s futuristic architecture (the concrete mound in the background is Rio’s Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Sebastian) constructed amidst blocks of buildings from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.
My hotel was in Copacabana in Rio’s high-end South Zone. Copa is a neighborhood of ten to fourteen story buildings arranged in tight blocks with a consistent street wall, rather like books on a shelf. The buildings are lined with stores on the ground floor, a mix of bars and restaurants and shops offering everyday dry goods that all open out into the street.
Although the grandeur that made Copacabana famous has moved on to other areas like Ipanema, Copa remains a nice neighborhood, its density and compactness supporting a lively urban environment. I like the detailing of a lot of its architecture, both classical and modern.
Copacabana and the other neighborhood in the South Zone are just a few blocks wide, sandwiched between mountains and the ocean.
Much of the city comes to relax on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema on the weekends. The volleyball courts for Rio’s Olympics were constructed on the beach at a point not far from here.
The theme of this year’s World Planning Schools Congress, “Insurgent Planning”, was timely as Brazil wrestled with political tumult and protests over inequality and globalization leading up to the Rio Olympics.
“Memory of war never goes away.” The evening news here in Brazil was dominated by coverage of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile back home.
I gave a talk on the evolution of downtown Kansas City at the conference. It was good to present this research to a global audience. Although contexts and circumstances differ, interest in livability and urban vitality seemed universal.
The Olympics spurred development in Rio’s western district and regeneration of selected sites throughout the region. This picture is of the Santiago Calatrava’s Museo de Amanha (Museum of Tomorrow), built in abandoned docklands adjacent to downtown as a monument and oracle of sustainability and global climate change.
Dusk in Rio de Janeiro, and time to return home.