From superblock Sant Antoni in Barcelona to superblock Santo Antônio Recife

From superblock Sant Antoni in Barcelona to superblock Santo Antônio Recife

↓ Projectinfo

This research addresses the issue of empty buildings and vacant public spaces, which have contributed to a feeling of insecurity in the Santo Antônio neighbourhood of Recife located in northeastern Brazil. This affects the protection, comfort and enjoyment of active road users (= pedestrians and cyclists, not for motorised vehicles).

Currently, cars dominate the streetscape in Recife, which are mainly present to a large extent in parked form. In Santo Antônio, the perimeter is used by transit traffic, while the northern part of the district is less heavily used by cars, where there are wide paved roads. This is partly because few facilities and housing are located in that part, which makes it feel unsafe on the streets.

This research aims to work with residents and visitors in the Santo Antônio district and stakeholders to gain insights into how to revitalise public spaces for active road users in a socially equitable way. This research focuses on applying the superblock model in urban areas with high vacancy rates, to make these areas more attractive to both new and current residents, thereby promoting inclusive urban regeneration.

To answer the research question, a mixed-method and participatory study was conducted. This involved conducting interviews with both residents of the Leonardo Cisneiros Occupation and visitors on the street. This was used to identify the mobility problems in Santo Antônio and their needs. In addition, an interview was conducted with Recentro (Department of the City Hall Urban Planning) to discuss their vision for the neighbourhood.

To turn the rundown and sparsely populated Santo Antônio neighbourhood into a lively one (also at night), it is essential to create a coherence between mobility, spatial structure and fabric. All this is to take into account the aspects of safety, comfort and encounters and incorporate them into a design.

To achieve this, (1) the superblock model will be integrated into the neighbourhood, creating space for active road users, green space, play and sports facilities, provided with different programmes and where only motorised destination traffic is allowed within the block; (2) the revitalisation of public space should be accompanied by addressing vacancy to get more eyes on the street for a better sense of safety; (3) and in the short term create visible changes on the street through ‘Tactical Urbanism’.

In the preferred situation, pedestrians and cyclists will play a more prominent role in public spaces, while cars will take a less dominant role within the neighbourhood. The STOP principle acts as a guide to the creation of a modal shift. That is, pedestrians (S), pedals (T), public transport (O) and passenger transport (P) will be preferred to achieve a safe and sustainable mobility ranking.

These principles will be incorporated into a master plan, which, together with six impressions, will support the master’s thesis to get an idea of what the future Santo Antônio could look like for current and new residents. The six impressions were shown to visitors to the neighbourhood as part of a participatory approach to gain insights into their reactions. By using anti-gentrification tools, Santo Antônio can become an inclusive neighbourhood.

  • Authors:
    • Jeffrey van Zanten

    • Marleen Goethals (Promotor)
    • Thomas Vanoutrive (Promotor)
    • Múcio Jucá (Promotor)
    • Lula Marcondes (Promotor)
  • Period:
    • 2022 — 2023  

    • Urbanism & Spatial Planning

    • Master thesis

    • UNICAP