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The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Collective reflections about development practice and cities


A planned city model: Curitiba, Brazil.

By Tina Ziegler, on 25 May 2010

Post written by: Bridges Brazil

Curitiba, the capital of the State of Paraná, a mainly agricultural state in southern Brazil, is indeed the best planned city in Brazil and an international model for sustainable development, is much more than simply the result of a few successful projects. The city’s achievements are the result of strategic, integrated urban planning. This all-encompassing strategy informs all aspects of urban planning, including social, economic and environmental programs.


"Massive Transport System"

Curitiba’s strategy focuses on putting people first and on integrated planning, and these influences are apparent in all aspects of the city. The strategy is what underpins the individual projects system-wide that improve the environment, cut pollution and waste, and make the quality of life in the city better.

A clear strategy and vision of the future in Curitiba has meant that decisions large and small made over the course of 40 years have added up to a city that’s public-spirited and eco-efficient. Strong leadership resulted in successful, long-term implementation of strategy.
The city had few outstanding historical or natural features, but its architects and urban planners have transformed it into a vibrant center with good quality of life that draws many tourists. Curitiba’s population has more than doubled to 1.8 million over the past 30 years.

Despite major challenges that came with rapid growth, significant improvements have been made to the city’s quality of life in areas including public transportation, preservation of the city’s cultural heritage, expansion of parks and green areas, and social and environmental programs.
Curitiba has a long tradition of innovative and integrated urban planning geared toward the strategic imperative of making the city a better place to live, as outlined in the city’s Master Plan of 1965.  From the 1990s until today, the city’s main planning focus has been on sustainable development and integration of Curitiba’s metropolitan region. Strong political leadership and continuity has been essential to long-term implementation of the city’s plan.

The combination of core values expressed in the city plan allowed planning for efficiency and sustainability even in difficult circumstances (i.e., during the military dictatorship, times of economic crisis in Brazil, despite high numbers of poor migrants flowing into the city).
A clear strategy and vision of the future in Curitiba and creation of an agency to make sure it was implemented has meant that smaller decisions made over the course of years and in many individual programs have added up to a city that’s a model of ecological, people-centered urbanism.

Although Curitiba is known internationally as a sustainable, ecological city, it calls itself “the city of all of us.” In almost any area of Curitiba’s urban planning over the years, it is possible to see how consideration has been given to people in the big picture–and also to see the associated, system-wide sustainability benefits of integrated planning.
This is what’s most unique about the city’s strategy: it maximizes the efficiency and productivity of transportation, land-use planning and housing development by integrating them so they support one another to improve the quality of life in the city.

International Study Groups on Urban Development are organized all year round in this model city.
the group engages professors and students and eventually involves
public authorities, business people, and others. If you require further information on how to enroll to this dialogues, write to Eliel Rosa bridgesndialogues@gmail.com, Executive Director of Bridges & Dialogues Brazil.

2 Responses to “A planned city model: Curitiba, Brazil.”

  • 1
    Brazil wrote on 8 November 2010:

    Curitiba is a very beautiful city. Efficient and well-planned that’s for sure.

  • 2
    Jonas Rabinovitch wrote on 19 April 2017:

    I worked in Curtiba for many years as City Planner and Chief of Staff of the Planning Institute. I was pleased to present the experience of Curitiba at the Bartlett and at the DPU (I am proud to have obtained my MSc there). However, it seems that, at that time, nobody cared. I guess that, at that juncture, I was not Marxist enough?

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