May 20 2014

The Disappearing Historical Landscapes of Recife, Brazil

The history and landscapes of Recife, Brazil are stolen through expansive “modernity” and are ignored by the public. The preservation of the history of an urban center happens through the maintenance of buildings, landscapes and the peculiarities that document the past and give countenance to the locality. Unfortunately, the face of Recife, a city born on islands, river tributaries and canals crossed by bridges, has gradually disappeared.

The city of Recife Brazil was founded on river tributaries and has many bridges that connect different parts of the city.

Areas that combine natural scenery and architecturally valued historical buildings are, without question, fading gradually. For example, it is impossible to recognize Cabanga (coastal neighborhood), looking from the point of St. Joseph and Old Recife. The Rio Mar shopping and entrepreneurial center replaced a large portion of the estuary that makes up the Pina Basin – one of the last indicators that we live on a mangrove. Similarly, it is difficult to see the city center from the bridges that connect Cabanga and Pina (a historical, coastal neighborhood in Recife).

The centuries-old houses and historic churches are engulfed by the “twin towers” that have been constructed on the neighboring pier at the old revolving bridge. This scenery will appear even stranger with the project on the New Pier between Recife and Estelita Jose Av South. I have nothing against the development of forgotten areas that need and deserve to be revitalized, in order to shelter people, increase trade and “populate” the city.

A bird's eye view of Recife, Brazil provides a look at the different types of development that have taken place throughout the city.

But, I am against property speculation that takes over the mangroves, violates landscapes and produces concrete spikes where the city’s history is told (why not limit the number of floors?). The lack of limitations on building heights is related to a culture of exclusivity (buildings and gated communities themselves are erected as if they were independent territory of the metropolis), and steals the form and soul of the city.

This topic may not be on the current agenda, but the public continues to do nothing about it and is in need of a debate (and a commitment to history). It is sad to see the city lose its DNA daily and be converted into one more indistinguishable place among many, with buildings spread out everywhere- built as proof of the city’s luxury and “development” – and disconnected with the surrounding reality.

Does your city struggle to preserve its history?

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, can be found here.

Credit: Data and images linked to sources.

Nora Lamm

Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Nora grew up surrounded by the varied architectural styles and geographies of the Southwest U.S. After graduating from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Geography, Nora moved to Washington, D.C. to work in the affordable housing industry. After studying Portuguese and Spanish and traveling in the southern cone of South America, Nora is looking forward to providing the readers and followers of The Grid with translations of Brazilian blogs that provide the most insightful and local perspectives related to environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 at 9:14 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, History/Preservation, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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