Multi-Sensory Urbanism in Brazil Project Outline Student Profile Beth Teal City and Regional Planning Year 3 English Multi-Sensory Urbanism email@example.com (previously: firstname.lastname@example.org) Outline of Project Aims and activities: The concept and techniques related to multi-sensory urbanism is currently emerging in the west. My dissertation research project investigated how non-visual stimuli can be consciously incorporated to positively enhance the experience of public urban places. In Brazil this research will be furthered in a differing climatic and cultural context. This will involve collecting qualitative data from first-hand analysis of various types of public urban spaces to compare and contrast them to those Iâ€™ve previously studied in the UK and also using presentations alongside workshops to develop ideas from the experiences of Brazilian urban design students and professionals at the three universities we are visiting. Outcome: Organised within the following report will be the information on Multi-Sensory Urbanisms given within the presentations at the three universities in Brazil, the analysis of Brazilian public urban spaces and the ideas developed through workshops with Brazilian students. An overall conclusion will be formed on how positive differences observed and ideas developed could be implemented here to create more public interaction with the built environment, encourage use and through this form greater sustainability.
Multi-Sensory Urbanism in Brazil Project Report 1: Definition of Multi-Sensory Urbanism Multi-Sensory Urbanism can be seen as the conscious consideration and incorporation of all the human senses within urban design. 2: Relevance of Multi-Sensory design to the fields of planning and urban design The concept of Multi-Sensory Urbanism arguably overlaps with a number of key design principles; three examples of which are outlined below. 1. Inclusivity is a key design principle (Fletcher et al. 2006) and also a concept supported through legislation; the Equality Act 2010 and compulsory design and access statements in planning applications. Conscious and positive multi-sensory design could improve inclusivity, by creating places that offer a wider variety of desirable stimuli and participation options. 2. Pre-existing place identities may also be enhanced through multi-sensory design. The Urban Design Compendium (Llewelyn Davies Yeang. 2000) outlines this objective of “enriching the pre-existing” (Llewelyn Davies Yeang. 2000), which, as demonstrated in figure 1, overlaps with alternative design concepts of “character” (DETRE. and CABE. 2000) and “richness” (Bentley et al. 1985).
Figure 1: Key aspects of urban design in the Urban Design Compendium and their relation to principles and objectives in other key design documents. Source: Llewelyn Davies Yeang (2000. p13) 3. Multi-sensory design could also boost legibility (Bentley et al. 1985., DETRE. and CABE. 2000), which closely links with Lynch’s (1960) notion of way-finding. Lynch (1960) noted that this process uses an environmental mental image; “this image is the product both of immediate sensation and of the memory of past experience, and it is used to interpret information and to guide action” (Lynch. 1960. p4). Thus, as multi-sensory beings, designing for all senses may aid way-finding by forming additional locational cues.
As multi-sensory design aspects overlap with and could be used to enhance and aid in achieving existing urban design principles, if considered and incorporated properly, they would positively enhance the experience of public urban places. 3: Sensory experience of the environment via perception Sensation occurs when a sensory receptor cell recognises a stimulus, the signal is then sent to the brain to undergo the process of perception and translate the sensation into something meaningful (Train et al. 2007). We may assume that for humans there is no such thing as a pure and unbiased experience of the sensations in an environment; because all stimuli are filtered and understood through the interpretations of our perception. Therefore experiences are personal and unique and so is reality. Research into environmental perception was partially pioneered by Gibson (1950, 1966). Figure 2 shows a table created by Gibson (1966) organising and detailing the various perceptual systems, including not only the five traditional senses but also ‘The Basic Orientating System’ which is also known as the vestibular sense.
Figure 2: The different perceptual systems. Source: Gibson (1966, p50) 4: A Multi-Sensory Urbanism technique of analysing the city Multi-Sensory Urbanism reminds us that although we naturally tend to concentrate on our visual sense, the nonvisual senses are equally as important to our perception of environments. Thus analysing the city using MultiSensory Urbanism involves consciously considering the non-visual senses, these are: the auditory sense (hearing), the tactile sense (touch), the kinaesthetic sense (the relative positions of parts of the body), the olfactory sense (smell), the gustatory sense (taste), and the vestibular sense (balance and acceleration). A sensory route or ‘sensewalking’ method can be used, allowing the participant or researcher to directly experience the environmental stimuli in the chosen location. Similar techniques have also been employed by Bruce et al (2009), Degen and Rose (2012), Henshaw et al (2009), and Sommer and Aitkens (1982). Each stimuli recognised along the walk should be recorded, at the most basic level with a note of what sense it applies to, a description of the experience, and a rating of whether it was found to be positive, neutral or negative. 5: Outline of the non-visual human senses 5.1: Auditory sense (hearing) Sounds are formed by vibrations creating compression of molecules, creating a sound wave; “waves with greater amplitude produce sensations of louder sounds” (Bernstein et al. 2008. p112) and “pitch, or how high or low a tone sounds, depends on the frequency of sound waves” (Bernstein et al. 2008. p112). Sound recognition varies between people; but generally ranges from 20 Hz to 20000 Hz (Freberg. 2009). Southworth (1969) noted that the blind, being
more auditory sensitive, preferred sounds that “lie within the low to middle ranges of frequency and intensity and are transparent non-repetitive sounds” (Southworth. 1969. p50), and that “less pleasing sound settings are more attention-demanding and less informative” (Southworth. 1969. p50). 5.2: Tactile sense (touch) Skin receptors produce at least five distinct sensations: “light touch, pressure, pain, cold and warmth” (Coon and Mitterer. 2009. p139). Alongside these, Waddington et al’s (2011) research suggests that vibrations are also distinguishable. Furthermore, Diaconu et al noted that tactile experiences may occur indirectly via “synesthetic correspondences, as when we see tactile qualities or when the loud echo of the steps inside a building make us feel cold” (Diaconu et al. 2011. p16). 5.3: Kinaesthetic sense (the relative positions of parts of the body) According to Gibson (1966), the tactile sense also encompasses the kinaesthetic sense. Receptors recognise the “body’s position in space, the tensed or relaxed state of your muscles, how your joints are working and your posture” (Train et al. 2007. p139). 5.4: Olfactory sense (smell) Receptors in the nose recognise airborne molecules, allowing humans to “detect at least 10000 different odors” (Coon and Mitterer 2009. p136). Additionally St. Croix Sensory Inc. (2005) noted odours can also be experienced as taste or felt through the trigeminal nerve among others, with eight common sensations being “itching, tingling, warm, burning, pungent, sharp, cool, and metallic” (St. Croix Sensory Inc. 2005. p20). 5.5: Gustatory sense (taste) The four recognised sensations of taste are “salty, sweet, bitter, and sour” (St. Croix Sensory Inc. 2005. p20), with sensitivity from highest to lowest being: bitter, sour, salt, then sweet (Coon and Mitterer. 2009). 5.6: Vestibular sense (balance and acceleration) Within the vestibular sense “fluid-filled sacs called otolith organs are sensitive to movement, acceleration, and gravity” (Coon and Mitterer. 2009. p140). 6: General observations of public and semi-public urban spaces in Brazil which contrast with those in the UK 6.1: Pavement ownership It is common in Brazil for the pavements surrounding a building to belong to the property owner; it is their responsibility to pave and maintain these areas. This ownership allows for personalisation, thus there can be a high level of tactile diversity; the paths of the city become a collage of personalities and tastes. Some of the variety of paving can be seen in figure 3. Figure 3A
Figure 3: Photos illustrating various paving styles in Brazil. Source: Author (figure 3A and 3B) and Novo de Azevedo (figure 3C and 3D) However, this private ownership of a public space can also have a negative impact. This is due to a lack of tactile continuity and hazards forming where areas fall in to disrepair (see figure 4) or are built in a way to benefit the property owner above the pedestrian, for example through forming a harsh dip or rise in the pavement to allow for a vehicle to more easily park in garage (see instances in figures 5 and 6). Dipping or raising the pavement in this way creates unnecessary and in some cases negative kinaesthetic and vestibular stimuli for the pedestrian, through forcing them to either alter their route to avoid the obstacle or experience a rapid change in gradient.
Figure 4: A hazardous broken pavement in Porto Alegre. Source: Author
Figure 5: A harsh rise in the pavement outside a residency on Rua Bom Jesus, SĂŁo JosĂŠ. Source: Google Street View (2011)
Figure 6: A harsh dip in the pavement outside a hotel on Rua General Neto, Pelotas. Source: Google Street View (2011) Due to the paths being privately owned, informational tactile paving is not universally employed. In some situations, as can be seen in figure 7, dotted paving warns of danger and lined paving demonstrates the direction to walk. However, in other places informational paving is absent altogether or used decoratively. For instance, figure 8 illustrates a pedestrian crossing in Pelotas; on one side of the road informational tactile paving is present while on the other side it is not. For disabled persons, this unstandardized use could mean the city is confusing or difficult to read and possibly dangerous, which could result in decreased inclusivity.
Figure 7: Exemplification of how tactile paving is employed for informational purposes in Brazil. Source: Author
Figure 8: A lack of continuity in the employment of tactile paving on a crossing on Rua General Os贸rio, Pelotas. Source: Google Street View (2011) 6.2: A lack of auditory signals on pedestrian crossings On pedestrian crossings in the four cities we visited in Brazil there were no auditory signals to alert users to when it is safe to cross the road. Similarly to the unstandardized use of informational paving, the impact of a lack of informational sounds on crossings might be a decrease in the inclusivity of the city, making urban areas more difficult for disabled persons to navigate and use. 6.3: Presence of informal vendors on the street Informal street vendors, such as those which can be seen in figures 9-11, create a vibrant sensory addition to more formal retailers by providing a variety of sounds, smells, and tastes in the streets. During the trip, we witnessed vendors selling a great range of goods, such as: flowers, fruit, garlic, vegetables, food (both sweet and savoury), and toys. This street activity in Brazil is an aspect far rarer seen on the streets of the UK.
Figure 9: A street vendor selling toys on a busy street in Porto Alegre. Source: Author
Figure 10: A street vendor selling garlic in Florianopolis. Source: Author
Figure 11: A street vendor selling churros and warm chocolate in Florianopolis. Source: Author
6.4: Presence of cafes and restaurants on the street In the same way to the informal street vendors, the weather in Brazil enables cafes and resturants to overflow onto the street, such as those illustrated in figures 12-14. This amplifies the street’s sensory buzz, by adding an additional layer of sounds and smells on the street from the presence of customers, food, drink, and, occationally, music from the buisnesses. For example, in the market place Feria de Sᾶo Cristóvᾶo in Rio de Janeiro, a stage was located within close proximity to the resturants, allowing customers to enjoy various musical acts while eating and drinking. A video available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWqVstrjxTs shows a short clip of a performance on this stage.
Figure 12: Seating surrounding a small bar adjacent to the beach in Rio de Janeiro. Source: Author
Figure 13: Seating outside a café situated within a busy pathway of an indoor marketplace in Florianopolis. Source: Author
Figure 14: Outdoor seating belonging to an adjacent restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. Source: Author 6.5: Gated communities and commerce Due to fear of crime in Brazil, it is common to find high walls or metal fencing around residencies and businesses, some examples are shown in figures 15 and 16. This reduces the streetâ€™s capacity to create active edges and, as a result, the gating tends to constrain positive sensory vibrancy which could otherwise flow from the neighbouring houses and commerce. In some places this does not only reduce positive sensory experiences, but also seems to accentuate negative sensory experiences. For example, high solid walls can reverberate the sounds of traffic so that they become less informative, and more of a detriment to the pedestrians navigation and enjoyment of the city.
Figure 15: A high wall surrounding a residency in Pelotas. Source: Author
Figure 16: High metal fencing surrounding residencies and businesses on Rua General Lima E Silva, Porto Alegre. Source: Google Street View (2011) 6.6: Dependence on the motor vehicle Although a common issue internationally, some of the places we visited in Brazil were more dependent on private motor vehicles than others. Florianopolis, for example, was reasonably car dependant seemingly due to the majority of the land on the island currently being protected from development, causing a pepper-potting of settlements which had minimal public transport connections. Coincidentally, the informal settlement of Ponta do Leal that our workshops centred around in Florianopolis was going to be relocated so that a three lane main road could be extended round the coast (more information on Ponta do Leal can be found in paragraph 7.1). It was clear from talking to Brazilian students in the workshop that being able to drive and own a motor vehicle was a common aspiration. However, for pedestrians, the level of noise from roads in some urban areas created a highly attentiondemanding setting, and, with the traffic drowning out other sounds, it became a detriment to gaining auditory information from other sources. Conversely, in Pelotas, the situation was different. Motor vehicles here tended to drive slower and consequentially were much quieter, less attention-demanding and allow for other urban sounds to be clearly heard. This was perhaps due to some of the streets being cobbled instead of tarmacked, as can be noticed in figure 17. When traveling in a car, the cobbled streets caused a negative auditory sensation for the drivers and passengers as the journey was much louder.
Figure 17: A cobbled road in Pelotas. Source: Author
6.7: Cooling mists from advertisments Figure 18 shows an advertisement found aptly placed by the beach, when the green button is pressed, a cooling mist of water is sprayed. This form of tactile interaction with the urban environment is not currently seen in the UK, however the climate in Brazil ensures that this a more valuable concept than it would be for the majority of the year in the UK.
Figure 18: Advertisement with touch activated cooling water mist in Rio de Janeiro. Source: Author 6.8: Water fountain designs inhibiting interaction In contrast to the tactile interaction with water that can be easily gained from advertisements dotted around urban areas, the water fountains in cities tended to discourage contact their water and also were seemingly a rarity. For example, one fountain found in PraĂ§a Vinte de Setembro in Pelotas exhibited a defensive wall which was too high to sit on and restricted playing with the water (for children especially). Another fountain, as can be seen in figure 19, was fiercely defended with metal bars. From this it would appear that only the soundscape and visual aesthetics of many water features in Brazil are intended to be enjoyed, and that tactile interaction with the water or feature itself is inhibited or prevented through design. This is a stark contrast to water features in the UK such as City Parkâ€™s mirror pool and jet fountains in Bradford or the water features in Millennium Square and the Peace Gardens in Sheffield, both seemingly designed to encourage physical interaction and enjoyment of the water.
Figure 19: Water fountain enclosed with metal fencing in Porto Alegre. Source: Author
6.9: Outdoor gyms The presence of publically accessible outdoor gyms were common place in Brazil; this is an aspect of urban design much rarer in the UK. The range of equipment found in the gyms can be seen in figures 20 and 21. These facilities deliver tactile, kinaesthetic and vestibular stimulation to users and additionally provide the availability of a different form of participation with the urban environment.
Figure 20: An outdoor gym in Rio de Janeiro. Source: Author
Figure 21: An outdoor gym in Rio de Janeiro. Source: Author 6.10: Touchable statues In contrast to how many fountains in Brazil were seemingly designed to discourage physical interaction as discussed in paragraph 6.8, a number of statues were observed throughout the trip which seemed to encourage tactile enjoyment. For example, the design of the statues pictured in figures 22 and 23 are integrated with the provision of a bench for pedestrians to use. It is also noticeable, especially in figure 22, that the statues have been worn over time from people touching them.
Figure 22: A statue placed on the edge of a bench in Rio de Janeiro. Source: Author
Figure 23: Two statues in Porto Alegre. Source: Author
6.11: Barbeque culture It was evident during our exploration of the cities in the south of Brazil, particularly in Pelotas and Porto Alegre, that barbeques are very much a part of Brazilian culture. It was common to catch a whiff of smoke or meat cooking as we walked around, either from residencies or restaurants. For instance, the barbeque in figure 24, situated outside a cafĂŠ, was noticed (at first from the smell of smoke) when walking through PraĂ§a Vinte de Setembro in Pelotas. Also, as can be seen in figure 25, a communal barbeque area has been provided for the residents of a new social housing development. Barbeques are an interesting addition to the urban environment as they not only provide an olfactory stimulus, but also tactile stimulation from the radiating heat and the opportunity for gustatory experiences from cooked food.
Figure 24: A barbeque belonging to a nearby cafĂŠ in PraĂ§a Vinte de Setembro in Pelotas. Source: Author
Figure 25: A communal barbeque area within a new social housing development in Florianopolis. Source: Author 6.12: Provision of tables with chess board pattern A common feature in Brazilian urban areas were tables with a chess board pattern, as can be seen in figure 26. Although a simple design feature, this adaption allows for the public tables and seating to provide an extra use, other than that which street furniture normally supplies. Participating in a game of chess or another game on the table provides the user with tactile stimulation and may also encourage social interaction.
Figure 26: Seating and tables with integrated chess boards in Florianopolis. Source: Author 6.13: High biodiversity in urban areas Many urban areas in Brazil exhibited signs of high biodiversity, which provided positive sensory experiences in a variety of ways. In many urban spaces, and especially in parks, vegetation was densely planted, often with generous amounts of tree cover as noticeable in figures 27-29. The effect of this was the creation of a cooling microclimate and pleasant olfactory sensations, such as earthy smells and subtle fragrances from different plants. The provision of food bearing vegetation also attracted wildlife, the most notable being birds due to the auditory experience they brought to the urban environment; a video available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9MN2Q7p7Ss taken in a street in Pelotas exemplifies this.
Figure 27: Dense vegetation cover in an urban park in Florianopolis. Source: Author
Figure 28: Dense vegetation cover on a street in Porto Alegre. Source: Author
Figure 29: Dense vegetation in an urban park in Porto Alegre. Source: Author 6.14: Buildings designed to be open to the elements It was apparent during the trip that buildings in Brazil were more often designed to be open to the elements in some form than in the UK. For example, the building which is shown in figure 30 exhibits corridors and staircases that are exposed to the outside environment. A comparable example of this type of design being used in the UK would be Park Hill Flats in Sheffield. The consequence of this feature is that, although users are protected slightly from environmental stimuli, many can still penetrate the building. This makes these semi-public areas vibrant and exciting places to be, where, for example, chatter between people outside can be recognised, wind can be felt, odours from vegetation can be experienced, and bird song and rain can be listened to. Although a wonderful experience in Brazil, this type of building design would be inappropriate for the climate of the UK.
Figure 30: A building in the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina exhibiting corridors and staircases which are open to the elements. Source: Author An alternative approach to this design feature was employed within a building in Pontifícia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, where a space within the building was open to the elements and formed an internal garden. Figure 31 portrays this space when a storm began. Rain falling on the plant leaves created sounds comparable in volume to the noise of thunder and could be heard throughout most of the building’s ground floor. At the opposite side of the building, an open two storey façade could be found. The way that this was designed blurred the boundary between inside and outside by allowing plants to grow into the building. In the storm, this created a similar effect to what could be experienced in the building’s internal garden and is demonstrated in a video available online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=691mCoFCj-U.
Figure 31: A garden which is open to the elements, built in to the interior of a building in Pontifícia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul. Source: Author
7: Case Study Sites In Brazil the simple Multi-Sensory Urbanism analysis technique outlined previously in paragraph 4 was employed in two case study sites; the first is an informal favela style settlement and the second is a social housing project which rehoused the residents of an inner-city favela. As we were walking around I would ask the Brazilian students to make a note of any non-visual stimuli they noticed, whether they perceived them to be positive, neutral or negative, and in addition what design features could be incorporated to improve upon what they’d experienced. 7.1: Case Study 1: Ponta do Leal Ponta do Leal is a favela style settlement of around 96 families in a sea front location of mainland Florianopolis. The community has lived in their current location for over 40 years (AMA. 2012?) and predominantly makes a living from fishing, using their seafront location to store their boats and access the sea, as can be noticed in figure 32. The majority of Ponta do Leal’s buildings have been illegally constructed and, as can also be seen in figure 32, many are built on stilts above the sea. The predominant issues in the settlement include poor sanitation and fires as the street layout is far too narrow for emergency vehicles to gain access. In the past the community has experienced drug problems and health related issues, including HIV/AIDS.
Figure 32: Some of the fishing boats and residencies built on stilts in Ponta do Leal. Source: Author The land Ponta do Leal is situated upon is viewed as very valuable and has been allocated for redevelopment to allow a 3 lane main road to be extended around the coast. It is hoped that this road will help to reduce the high levels of traffic congestion Florianopolis suffers from. It has also been mentioned that this land could also be used to construct a new bridge to better connect mainland Florianopolis with the island. As a consequence of the redevelopment proposal, the residents of Ponta do Leal have been given a new piece of land to move to, which is currently being used as a car park and is situated just behind the favela. The new housing is being designed at present. As residents have little money and cannot afford to build themselves new houses, the construction is to be funded by the ‘Minha Casa, Minha Vida – Entidades’ (AMA. 2012?); which is a federal government affordable housing program (Caixa. 2009?). We visited Ponta do Leal with urbanism students from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, the results of the site’s Multi-Sensory Analysis are shown in table 1.
Table 1: The Multi-Sensory Analysis of Ponta do Leal. Source: Author Sensory System(s) Auditory
Rating of the experience (positive, neutral or negative) Positive
Description of the experience or source Calming sound of lapping and crashing waves Broken and sloped paths
Kinaesthetic and Vestibular Olfactory
Cooling sensation from sea wind
A large tree on the communityâ€™s relocation site forms a large shadow on the ground which creates a cooling oasis
Sea wind smells fresh and of salt Smell of poor sanitation
Smell of animal waste; mainly from dogs Smell of damp and rot
Design ideas for improvement of the experience
Experience could be maintained through keeping a close connection with the sea shore in the new development and provide access to the beach Build paths that can be easily maintained and only have sloped where necessary, always keeping their gradients to a minimum Orientate the buildings or passages between them so that the sea wind can penetrate Improve the sanitation level in the new development by providing to each residency clean running water, a toilet, a shower and for the community a shared laundry room and bins placed away from the homes to hold any household waste for collection Provide animal waste bins within the new site so that faeces can easily be disposed of Create good drainage within the site and use long lasting and sustainable materials Build the corridors of the new flats on the outside of the buildings and leave them open so that the sea wind can penetrate Design the new development so that the tree can be kept and continue to create a cooling oasis within the site
The majority of positive sensations noticed by the students while visiting the site related to Ponta do Lealâ€™s connection with the sea. It was clear that no matter where in the favela we were, the sea could still be felt in some way. This was especially true on the pier (a view from which can be seen in figure 33), where the sounds and smells of the sea and feel of the wind were very strong. It may also be assumed from the openness of the balconies of two houses in figure 33 that the residents here relish being so close to the water and the sensations it brings. As many of the community make their livelihood from fishing and they all have a daily connection with the sea, maintaining this strong relationship should be integral to designing their relocation site and housing.
Figure 33: A view of the sea and Florianopolis from between two residencies on the pier in Ponta do Leal. Source: Author
Another observation the students made was of the paths through the favela. Many have become damaged over the years causing slopes and cracks to form as can be seen in figure 34.
Figure 34: Examples of broken and sloping paths within Ponta do Leal. Source: Author Within the negative sensations observed by the students there was a recurring theme of odours from poor sanitation. Smells of human and animal waste was common within the favela and pockets of damp and rot could also be noticed. It was evident that dog ownership was common and that some of the rubbish within the site had been left for a considerable amount of time, which may have been contributing to the smell of damp and rot. Evidence of pet dogs and discarded waste and materials can be seen in figures 35 â€“37.
Figure 35: A view between the houses on the pier in Ponta do Leal. Source: Author
Figure 36: Wood and household waste left on a rock in the sea just outside Ponta do Leal. Source: Author
Figure 37: Enclosed yard shared between a few houses in Ponta do Leal. Source: Author Undoubtedly some aspects of sanitation will be improved with the new residential development for the community of Ponta do Leal. This will be through the provision of running water, toilets and bathrooms, which should reduce some of the negative sensory experiences. However, it is likely that many aspects of their lifestyle will continue as it is now. For example, in the settlement of Nova Chocolatᾶo, where former favela residents have been provided with new housing, high levels of dog ownership have continued, with them often roaming the street, and piles of refuse still noticeable throughout the site. The author’s main concern for the relocation of this community is that although they will only be moving to a site behind that which they currently reside in, Ponta do Leal’s strong connection with the sea is threatened. As a consequence of this move, many of the positive sensory experiences associated with the proximity to the sea could be lost if not actively considered within the design. 7.2: Case Study 2: Nova Chocolatᾶo Nova Chocolatᾶo in Porto Alegre is a social inclusion project which provided the 800 residents of the inner city informal settlement of Vila Chocolatᾶo with a new place to live in a suburban area. Prior to the relocation, the majority of people living in Vila Chocolatᾶo worked as ‘catadores’ or ‘papalores’; using carts to collect rubbish in the city and bring it home to recycle. However, this activity resulted in poor sanitation and rat infestations. The settlement also suffered from fires, arising from illegal connections to the electricity grid. The new settlement provided a building separate from residencies to sort rubbish, legal connections to electricity and
water grids, and increased sanitation levels. It is important to note that the social inclusion project was not just about creating a new place for the Vila Chocolatᾶo community to live and solve the aforementioned physical problems, but also combatting other issues such as domestic violence, drugs, poor educational levels and lack of job diversity. Preparing the residents for relocation and creating the new settlement was achieved through the ‘Chocolatão Sustainability Network’. This network was made of the Chocolatão Community Association and government and private stakeholders, which are listed in text box 1. Text Box 1: The ‘Chocolatão Sustainability Network’. Source: Global Compact Cities Program (2012?) • • • •
• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
“DEMHAB – construction of the Nova Chocolatão village and provision of income generation training programs. City Industry and Commerce Ofﬁce (SMIC) - provision of income generation training for ‘at risk’ women and monitoring their entry into the job market. City Local Governance Department (SMGL) - ongoing role in coordinating the CSN, developing the social capital of community members and assisting with ﬁnding solutions for challenges faced by the community. City Health Department (SMS) – the Santa Marta Community Health Clinic worked with the Chocolatão community prior to resettlement. A registered nurse from the clinic visited the slum daily, providing assistance where needed and directing those in need of urgent medical attention to the Clinic or a hospital. City Education Department (SMED) – ensured school attendance of children living in Vila Chocolatão and implemented the PIM/PIÁ and Literate Brazil programs. City Social Assistance Foundation (FASC) - implemented various programs in Vila Chocolatão, including PETI (child labour eradication program) and the ‘Chocolate for Strawberries’ project (aimed at preventing children working in farmers’ markets and facilitating the employment of mothers as cleaners in the same farmers’ market. Mothers would also receive leftover food at the end of their shifts). Mother’s Club - a community organisation that delivered the ‘Friends of the Ball’ project, which aims to offer children activities on weekends and after school hours to keep them off the streets. Vila Chocolatão Association – a local community run association responsible for monitoring income generation activities conducted in the temporary recycling shed and the new recycling shed at Nova Chocolatão. Macarroni Fast Food – a private sector sponsor of Vila Chocolatão’s Bom de Bola soccer team. Soluções Usiminas - a private sector partner who constructed the new recycling centre at Nova Chocolatão. Vonpar Institute - an NGO hired to train Chocolatão residents to work together as part of a cooperative to manage all operational aspects of the new recycling centre at Nova Chocolatão. Companhia Esadual de Energia Elétrica (CEEE) - provided Vila Chocolatão with access to electricity and assisted with the provision of income generation training for local residents. Public Enterprise of Mass Transit (EPTC) - implemented a trafﬁc education program. C&A Institute – a not-for-proﬁt public interest organisation dedicated to promoting and enhancing child and adolescent education in Brazil tasked with making a library available for Chocolatão residents in Nova Chocolatão. Instituto Brasileiro de Geograﬁa e Estatística (IGBE) - a federal government body that delivered training courses to residents and donates paper for recycling at the new recycling centre at Nova Chocolatão. Receita Federal, Ministerio Publico Federal and the Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (INCRA) These organisations also donate paper for recycling at the new recycling centre at Nova Chocolatão. SERPO - a federal government body that assisted with interviewing community members and recording their expectations in anticipation of the resettlement in May 2011. Parceiros Voluntários - an NGO that facilitated the involvement of various stakeholders in the resettlement process. Banco do Brasil - a private sector company that donated funds for the construction of a technology centre for the use of community members at Nova Chocolatão. TRF4 – a federal government body that owned the parcel of land where the original Vila Chocolatão was situated. The TRF4 is a key CSN partner involved in several projects and have been working with the Chocolatao community since 2000.”
The Chocolatao community’s new housing development includes the refuse recycling centre, some small shops, a small library, a nursery which receives 120 children under 5, and a recreation area which, unfortunately due to design constraints, is placed at the back of the development where there is little surveillance. Even though great efforts were made to create a sustainable community by intertwined the relocation with community engagement, education, public transport and diversifying the economic basis through partnerships with local businesses, today, 2 years since the replacement social housing came into use, 40% of the original residents have sold their houses. We visited Nova Chocolatᾶo with urbanism students from the Pontifícia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul, the results of the site’s Multi-Sensory Analysis are shown in table 2. Table 2: The Multi-Sensory Analysis of Nova Chocolatᾶo. Source: Author Sensory System(s) Auditory
Rating of the experience (positive, neutral or negative) Positive
Description of the experience or source
Sounds of music being played from residencies and on the street
Auditory Kinaesthetic and Vestibular
Sounds of dogs barking The street is built on a gradient and slopes uphill making the pedestrians’ journey more arduous A foul and sour odour could be noticed when passing what appeared to be the sewage system Smell from refuse piles dotted around the site
A smell of garbage from the recycling centre
The air smelled ‘fresher’ near the recreation grounds
A smell of smoke from a barbecue outside a small shop
Olfactory and Gustatory
A strong smell of sewage from an over flowing drain, an odour which could also be tasted slightly The pedestrian is unprotected from the heat of the sun
Sounds of people sat outside on the street talking
Design ideas for improvement of the experience Increase the width of pavements to encourage social interaction on the street Increase the width of pavements to encourage social interaction on the street -
Plant pleasant smelling vegetation in areas where undesirable smells may arise to mask them Integrate into the site design an area for household waste bins to be kept to encourage residents to dispose of refuse, either for each residency or to be shared between a few households. Also provide litter bins on the street for general use. Plant pleasant smelling vegetation in areas where undesirable smells may arise to mask them Integrate the open spaces and recreation grounds with the residencies to create ‘fresh’ air pockets throughout the site Provide a permanent barbecue area either for the residents of the site or for the small shop to use Design an easily maintained sewage system for the site Plant trees at the side of the road to create shade on the paths
A recurrent theme in the student’s observations of the site was that, although sanitation levels for the community had increased with the relocation, foul smells could still be noticed. These originated from the recycling centre portrayed in figure 38, piles of refuse dotted around the site exemplified in figures 39-41, and the sewage system; in particular from an overflowing sewer cover, which is shown in figure 42. It was also noticed that, with the exception of the recreation grounds at the rear of the site (see figure 43), there was little vegetation around, as can be noticed in figure 44. This characteristic of the site is of great contrast to the surrounding residential streets, which, as figure 45 clearly demonstrates, contain a significant amount of vegetation.
Figure 38: Nova Chocolatᾶo’s recycling centre. Source: Author
Figure 39: Discarded household items left outside a property in Nova Chocolatᾶo. Source: Author
Figure 40: A view of a side street in Nova Chocolatᾶo with refuse left on the pavement. Source: Author
Figure 41: A pile of construction rubble left on a street corner in Nova Chocolatᾶo. Source: Author
Figure 42: An overflowing sewer cover in Nova Chocolatᾶo. Source: Author
Figure 43: Part of the recreation grounds at the rear of the Nova Chocolatᾶo site. Source: Author
Figure 44: A view of Nova Chocolatᾶo’s main road, looking up the site towards the recreation ground. Source: Author
Figure 45: A map showing Nova Chocolatᾶo (highlighted by a red box) and the surrounding area. Source: Adapted by author from Google Maps On the whole Nova Chocolatᾶo, in terms of non-visual sensory stimulation, was quite sterile and boring, with positive sensations within the site seeming few and far between. The smell of smoke from a shop owner’s barbeque (see figure 46), the sounds of people chatting on the street (see figure 47) and of music being played were a welcome addition to the overall sensory experience of the site.
Figure 46: A small shop with a barbeque outside, in Nova Chocolatᾶo. Source: Author
Figure 47: A side street in Nova Chocolatᾶo, with residents talking and listening to music. Source: Author It could be argued that due to the lack of trees and plants on the streets of Nova Chocolatᾶo, the negative sensory stimuli such as foul smells and the street sloping upwards towards the recreation ground (as can be noticed in figure 44) were more easily noticed and perhaps perceived more negatively than they would be otherwise. Interestingly, as can be seen in table 2, some of the design ideas to improve upon the experience of different sensations noticed within the site relate to planting vegetation. The provision of trees and plants within the site would also encourage wildlife to use the site, this would increase positive sensory experiences, while also supporting the environmental aspect of sustainability. Thus, if one aspect of the site were to be changed, a simple option would be to increase the density of vegetation within Nova Chocolatᾶo. 8: Conclusion how positive differences observed and ideas developed could be implemented here to create more public interaction with the built environment, encourage use and through this form greater sustainability During the trip, as outlined in paragraphs 6.1 through to 6.14, a number of positive sensory stimuli were observed. A number of these would be useful to implement in the UK urban environment and are summarised below: Firstly, the presence of informal street vendors could perhaps be encouraged in the UK through creating strategically placed wider paved areas or car-free streets to provide the space necessary for this type of commerce to locate in areas of high pedestrian footfall. Similarly, to permit cafes and restaurant seating to overflow onto the street strategically placed wider paved areas or car-free streets would be necessary as so not to overcrowd busy pedestrian areas. Cobbled roads in Pelotas created a negative auditory sensation for car drivers and passengers, which as a consequence made them drive slower. This benefited the pedestrians as the cars were much quieter and soundwise didn’t impact as greatly on other urban sensory experiences. In the UK, similar road textures could be employed in city centres to passively slow car users. In Rio de Janeiro advertisements which also sprayed water mists were found on the beach. Although this design could be copied and placed adjacent to popular beaches in the UK, it could be found that for the majority of the year they remain unused due to our colder climate. However, water mists could be an interesting addition to areas in the UK where there are existing water features which encourage interaction. Free outdoor gyms are not unknown in the UK, but very rare. If more easily available, in popular urban parks for instance, it is likely that they would be utilised. Additionally, if a provided with a covered area and lighting, they could be used in all weather conditions and throughout the day and night.
Statues which do not restrict tactile enjoyment like those found around Brazil are not unknown in the UK. Nonetheless, an increase in similar interactive artwork in the UK either combined with seating arrangements or not would make urban spaces more participatory, interesting and vibrant places to be. Barbeque culture is not as prevalent in the UK as it is in Brazil, but it is still a popular activity especially in summer. Where safe and possible to do so, barbeque areas could be created in cities with outdoor seating space and either associated with a commercial property or rented out. The provision of tables with a chess board pattern is simple design feature but could be found to be popularly used. If this was true, the tables would increase the amount of time people choose to stay in and enjoy urban spaces. Even if not used to play games, there would be little loss as it could still be used as a table and seating. Also the potential pattern on the tables could be varied to allow for various games to be played, such as Reversi, Noughts and Crosses, Snakes and Ladders, or Mancala games. Preferably, games which require little specialist equipment and where pieces could be substituted with coins or rocks would be best. However, where game pieces or dice need to be used, these could be perhaps be rented from nearby shops or brought by users. Lastly, many places in Brazil exhibited high levels of biodiversity through densely planted vegetation. This aspect of urban design is often considered in the UK, even so, increasing levels of biodiversity and permeability of built up areas for wildlife can always be achieved. This could be done by using native vegetation, especially those which produce food or provide habitats and also by making water available for animals to drink, live in or feed from, for instance through ponds.
In the case studies of Ponta do Leal and Nova Chocolatᾶo in paragraphs 7.1 and 7.2 respectively, I asked the Brazilian students to observe the non-visual sensory aspects of the developments and then suggest design aspects which would improve upon the experiences they had witnessed. Many of the stimuli recognised related to poor sanitation or, in the case of Ponta do Leal, the informal way the settlement has been constructed and maintained. Thus the design ideas in response to these sensory stimuli observed are not particularly relevant to developments in the UK. Nonetheless, it is still important when developing a site in any context to consider the sensory implications of features (and lack of), such as: building orientation and design, the placement of bins, the provision of trees and plants, integration of recreation areas, and pavement and road widths. Actively considering the sensory implications of design and providing an increase in positive multi-sensory experiences within public urban spaces in both the UK and Brazil would ensure that these places are more pleasant to spend time in, and perhaps even more exciting through having a greater variety of participation opportunities (both passive and active). Multi-sensory places are also inherently more inclusive, through providing active consideration of and positive stimulation for the disabled, especially those with sensory impairments. By improving public spaces in a way that makes them more popular through people staying for longer, greater sustainability is formed as the development or retrofitting is more economically worthwhile and the site will only need to be maintained and not redesigned for a longer period of time. Therefore it should always be important to consider the sensory implications of design features and, where possible, create positive sensory stimulation in public urban spaces.
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Published on Aug 8, 2013