How to demolish a highway and open a port

Porto Maravilha 2013 – English

In recent decades, cities around the world have awakened to the new paradigm of sustainable urban development, where the new frontier is the occupation of vacant spaces and the integration into the urban fabric and urban life. Within this context, the reuse of old industrial and port areas is taking on new purposes for cities. The regeneration of these spaces, with intensification and blending of their uses, can produce sustainable urban spaces that boost quality of life.


The port area of the city of Rio de Janeiro has become greatly degraded, to the detriment of the population that lives and works there. The reduction in port activities dried up the economy and the construction of the Perimetral Highway converted the area into a passageway.

Over the last decades, it has been placed on the back burner, despite its strategic location and immense historical and cultural value, which were recognized with the creation, in 1987, of the Cultural Environment Protection Area for the Saúde, Gamboa and Santo Cristo Neighborhoods (Portuguese acronym: APA SAGAS). The growing number of abandoned and decrepit buildings of architectural value, the malfunctioning sewage and drainage network, and problems with public lighting have created a major challenge that  region’s residents, workers and users must contend with.


A new vision

The Porto Maravilha Urban Operation is a planned and innovative way to (re)build the city. An initiative of the City of Rio de Janeiro, with state and federal government support, the redevelopment restores the importance of this 5-million-square-meter area. Porto Maravilha is a costly operation, entailing R$ 8 billion over 15 years, without the use of municipal treasury funds.

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The initial interventions have already restored to the city genuine archaeological treasures, such as the rediscovery of the Valongo Pier. Since the changes underway have not occurred in the city for a long time, a taste for controversy has been rekindled, with the debate about the demolition of the Perimetral Highway and the confusion that works of this magnitude create in regards to traffic conditions.





On Easter Sunday, April 20, a new section of the Elevated Perimeter Highway was imploded: 300m, between 1st Naval District and the Federal Police building. The Center of Rio rediscovered; the re-acquaintance of the Port with Guanabara Bay.