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Two Historic Squares to Transform the Guanabara Waterfro...

Two Historic Squares to Transform the Guanabara Waterfront in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Two key areas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s downtown, 15 Square, one of the oldest sites of the city, dating back to the 16th century, and Mauá Square, built in 1910, will welcome travelers arriving by sea. The two squares are about 1 kilometer apart from each other and are located along the scenic Guanabara Bay. A path

Praça Mauá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Two key areas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's downtown, 15 Square, one of the oldest sites of the city, dating back to the 16th century, and Mauá Square, built in 1910, will welcome travelers arriving by sea. The two squares are about 1 kilometer apart from each other and are located along the scenic Guanabara Bay. A path will run along the bay to connect them.

15 Square

The seaside walkway will be free to visitors, with views of the Fiscal Island, Enxadas Islands, Cobras Islands, the Rio-Niterói bridge, and several historic buildings along the bay. Today, the path goes through the busy Avenida Rio Branco and 1st of March Road, far from the shoreline. The new path, cutting through the 1st Naval District complex, outlining São Bento (Saint Benedict) Hill, has been closed to the public so far.

An agreement between the city government and the Navy made the path accessible to the public. In exchange, the city will redevelop the 1st Naval District base and reconstruct a military canteen. The route is lined with buildings from the 17th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, that previously were only known to the military and their guests. Work on the project began in 2012.

Ihla Fiscal, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The most interesting buildings are the command building of the 1st District, the former Salt Warehouse from 1754, and the art deco style home of the former Minister of the Navy. The São Bento Monastery, from 1671, on the top of the hill from which it gets its name, will be visible to the general public from a never before seen angle.

Underneath the Arnaldo Luz Bridge, which leads to the Cobras Islands, a 40-meter boomerang-shaped metal deck is being prepared for installation, to give pedestrians access to the bay. In the final stretch, one can view the most beautiful buildings: those on Fiscal Island. The island is famous for being the site of the final grand ball of the monarchy in 1889.

Mauá Square

At the other extreme, in Mauá Square, the imposing Museum of Tomorrow, contrasts with the old buildings surrounding it. Concrete benches, similar to those in the square, are being installed along the walkway. Their presence invites passersby to stop, relax and enjoy the fresh breeze coming off the bay. The path is 600 meters long and will be opened to the public in June 2016, before the Olympic Games in Rio. This is just one part of the “Mayor Luiz Paulo Conde” walkway, which stretches 3.5 kilometers from Warehouse 8 of the docks to 15 Square. Before its demolition,  an elevated highway used to run along its perimeter.

The highway, which was previously hiding the area, was gradually torn down over the last two years. Paulo Conde (1934-2015), who was mayor of the city from 1997 to 2000, was honored for his enthusiasm regarding the revitalization of the port area.

The revival of the region is inspired by cities such as Buenos Aires, which transformed its degraded Puerto Madero into an upscale neighborhood. “This area should belong to the public in the same way. There is no sense in keeping it just for private military use,” stated the architect Antonio Agenor Barbosa, a professor of History and Theory of Architecture of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora.

Museu do Amanhã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Museum of Tomorrow Opened in December 2015

After being postponed multiple times, the Museum of Tomorrow  was finally opened on December 19th. Estimated at a cost of R$ 215 million, its construction began five years ago. The museum, the first of its kind in the world according to its curator, physicist Luiz Alberto Olivera, was originally planned for 2011. The date soon proved to be impractical when considering the complex architecture of the award-winning Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who created a suspended 3.8 thousand ton structure. It was then announced that it would be a landmark for the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainability that occurred in 2012. The previous announcement from the city on the museum’s opening had been for November 17th, but the workers still needed to test the high-tech elements of the museum, and put the final touches on the outdoor reflecting pools and the external area.

Does your city have public spaces along its waterfront? What projects are underway to improve public spaces and walkability? Share your thoughts and city’s stories in the comments area below.

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Anna Petrone is a transportation engineering masters student at the University of Maryland, with a Bachelor in Math and Economics. Her interests lie in transportation projects located in developing countries, particularly in South America. She took a...

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