By Jay Forte and Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last weekend, on Saturday, December 3rd, the neighborhood of Santo Cristo in Rio’s Port Zone opened a new public park in a ceremony, which was accompanied by a day of special events. The area is named Parque Urbano (Urban Park) and is part of the revitalization efforts by the city along the downtown waterfront.
During the opening ceremony, the park’s name – chosen from over six hundred suggestions and voted for by more than two thousand members of the public – was revealed. Spanning six thousand square meters, the park stretches from Avenida Cidade Lima to the Via Binário do Porto, Rua Cordeiro da Graça and Avenida Professor Pereira Reis.
The park, created as a part of the revitalization of the Santo Cristo neighborhood, will serve as a space for relaxing, working, artistic presentations and eating. The neighborhood has also recently received new buildings, infrastructure and mobility projects as a part of its Porto Maravilha revitalization.
To retain a connection with the area’s history, the park’s design features plants native to the Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) and will host future exhibitions of objects found during excavation processes, such as old navy anchors. Students from several of Rio’s universities are currently competing to design the area’s seating, with the focus being innovative use of materials.
“The Olympic Boulevard brought great visibility to the revitalization of the Port Zone, it entered in the agenda of Cariocas and tourists. But this project can not be restricted to Praça Mauá and surroundings, it is necessary to extend this work to other parts of the port,” says Daniel Kraichete, director of the Creative District of Porto and design curator of Rua City Lab, a laboratory of urban experiences that opened in the park.
“We want to realize the potential of the cultural, economic and social elements of the Porto Maravilha in the Santo Cristo area. For this the [local government] worked in partnership with local entrepreneurs to develop the entire area,” said Alberto Silva, president of the Companhia de Desenvolvimento Urbano da Região do Porto do Rio de Janeiro (Urban Development Company of Rio de Janeiro Port Region).
The entire area has had a major facelift thanks to the Porto Maravilha project, and Rodrigo Braz Vieira, director of Bravietour explains. “The changes at the Port Zone area of Rio the past years, has been for sure really positive for the city.”
Vieira adds, “[It] has a great potential to be a new developing growing region of Rio. The city planners did right on following the trend of major Port Cities around the globe by occupying rundown and forgotten harbor areas and filling up with cultural attractions, museums and urbanization [projects].”
The inauguration day was organized by the Tend’Oyá group, whose objective is to encourage local economy and entrepreneurship.