SBS Bus Routes Planned and In-Effect. Map from MTA via Streetsblog
Last week, the MTA announced an expansion of Select Bus Service (SBS), New York City’s version of a “Bus Rapid Transit” (BRT) system. Streetsblog has noted that this strategic move is essentially the MTA’s acknowledgment it’s not financially feasible to build subway lines fast enough to meet demand. In pioneering cities like Curitiba (the first to implement BRT), Taipei, and Jakarta, BRT has been a viable means to improve and/or increase public transportation service at a lower capital expenditure than traditional transit options that require fixed rails, tunneling for new routes, custom train cars, etc. The system can also be built quickly and incrementally, offering improvements to the populace sooner than other more labor-intensive options.
Clark Kent used it to change into his iconic alter ego before he launched into the sky to save the world. It’s a mainstay of kitschy tourist photography. The telephone booth is an iconic structure that has captured the attentions of those around the world, through its use in film, or, even simply, as a noticeable streetscape feature. However, with the rise of mobile, and now smart-phone use, the phone booth has become passe in many cities. In some instances, the payphones no longer work, making the rare collect call home infinitely more difficult.
By now, you might be used to seeing abandoned theme parks set in barren, post-apocalyptic landscapes in China. But this one’s different. Not only is it set in Rio de Janeiro, it’s also right smack in the middle of Barra da Tijuca, one of city’s most valuable real estate zones. And, it’s not far from the future 2016 Olympic games. The Barra zone will accomodate 20 Olympic competitions and the Olympic Village, roughly half the athletes will compete here.
Barra da Tijuca is a fascinating study of contrasts: beautiful white sand beaches, inland lagoons and mountain backdrops on one hand; a pattern of gated communities, high rise condos and shopping malls on the other hand. Planned by Lucio Costa in 1969 with wide avenues and open spaces, Barra da Tijuca has turned its back on the utopian ideals of its founding and has allowed its urban form to be dictated by developer demands. The transformation of Rio de Janeiro for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have only put more pressure on Barra to provide what Rio de Janeiro cannot in terms of space.
Terra Encantada (“Enchanted Land”) sits in the middle of this contested space. Opened in 1998, the park closed after a 61-year old woman was killed after being thrown from a ride and an investigation uncovered multiple engineering and maintenance failures. Terra Encantada has sat empty since, apart from being used for the set of a Brazilian soap opera.
On a trip to study the legalization of street art in Rio de Janeiro, I was able to visit the abandoned amusement park. It is a real explorer’s delight, replete with a Main Street, a replica of the Pompidou Center in Paris, and gloriously decaying edifices:
The major rollercoaster at Terra Encantada
We climbed up, but it was much steeper than it appears
Part of the Main Street
The Pompidou Centre replica
Inside one of the abandoned storefronts
It is doubtful that Terra Encantada will remain in this form for long, as real estate pressures increase in the area and the “cleaning” of Rio continues in preparation for the upcoming global sporting events. According to a source, the developer plans to build hotels, hospitals and residential buildings. Until then, this remnant of a past Barra da Tijuca will stand incongruously amidst the new construction for the Olympic Games.
“Brazilian graffiti art is considered among the most significant strand[s] of a global urban art movement, and its diversity defies the increasing homogeneity of world graffiti.” – Design Week
In March 2009, the Brazilian government passed law 706/07 which decriminalizes street art. In an amendment to a federal law that punishes the defacing of urban buildings or monuments, street art was made legal if done with the consent of the owners. As progressive of a policy as this may sound, the legislation is actually a reflection of the evolving landscape in Brazilian street art, an emerging and divergent movement in the global street art landscape. In Brazil, there is a distinction made between tagging, known as pichação, and grafite, a street art style distinctive to Brazil.