KTH and World Cup city focus on urban planning
World Cup 2014
Curitiba is one of the twelve cities in Brazil where World Cup matches will be played, and it has one of the modern arenas in the country. The city also has a collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology on sustainable urban planning.
“The World Cup has accelerated upgrades in the cities as well as the focus on urban planning,” says Semida Silveira, a professor of Energy Technology who responsible for the cooperation.
In advance of the World Cup, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil’s participating cities have been undergoing a makeover, involving rehabilitation and new construction of stadiums, airports and surrounding areas, plus expansion of regional transport systems such as the metro in Rio de Janeiro.
Many of these infrastructure upgrades were underway long before the World Cup; but thanks to the football tournament, these efforts have been sped up, Silveira says.
Brazil is the world's fifth largest country by area. City planners there – as well as the country’s 190 million citizens – can hardly keep up with the speed of urban growth. In addition to transportation and logistics, sewage, waste and energy access are key issues that require systemic solutions when cities grow and develop.
The cooperation between Curitiba and KTH is focused on the areas of mobility , urban planning and environment.
“To incorporate energy thinking in urban design is far from obvious, but in Curitiba some of things we are looking into are the conditions for electrification of mass transport and the introduction of hybrid buses,” she says.
The World Cup-related improvements have not been greeted with universal approval. Demonstrations in cities have demanded that financing for the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics be diverted to expanding the public sector and services.
“They say that they want World Cup-standard hospitals and schools too,” Silveira says.
Although Brazil is already the sixth largest economy in the world and 35 million people have reportedly been lifted out of poverty during the last decade, gaps still remain and many live in poverty.
“When dealing with development issues, it’s always against a moving target,” she says. “It changes according to development. First, it is about everyone having access to education, then it's about the quality of the school, and so on.”
What do you think World Cup football means for research and development in Brazil?
“Probably not so much, but it increases the visibility of the country as such, so I hope people take the opportunity – there is so much more than football to showcase. You have lift your gaze and look beyond all the problems.”
When the World Cup and Olympics are over, will the new buildings stand deserted like an amusement park in the winter?
“No, I don’t think so. It is incredibly important that the construction continues.
Silveira says that if he could give three pieces of advice to city planners for dealing with Brazil’s rapid modernization, they would be:
- Evaluate how the renovation proceeds and its consequences.
- Do not lose sight of the thinking of the city and its long-term development.
- Dare to try new, alternative solutions - both in terms of technology and forms of cooperation between various actors.
“When you do things quickly you tend to do what you already know. But there are exceptions,” she says. He points out the newly renovated stadium in his hometown of Belo Horizonte, where the roof was fitted with solar panels that also connect to the grid.
Will you watch the matches?
- Yes, of course. It's a festival and I'll never forget when I was young and Brazil won against Italy in Mexico in 1970. It was outstanding.