Curitiba, The Worlds Greenest City?

The Brazilian city of Curitiba has been seen as a leader (BROWN, MCKIBBEN, REGISTER) in the area of Sustainable Cities in the past, with The Ecologist magazine labelling it as “The Greenest city on Earth” in 2014 (BARTH), it being awarded the Globe Forum Sustainable City Award in 2010 and Ecocity Builders having the 4th Ecocity World Summit in the city in 2000. But, there has been criticism of the city too, how serious social aspects were overlooked in the past (MENDONÇA, 2001) and the inability of the city to develop its infrastructure and best practice as the urbanized area quickly grew over recent decades (GUSTAFSSON & KELLY, 2012).

Regarding the limits of the city, we are working within what is called the Nucleo Urbano Curitibano (Curitiba Urban Nucleus) or NUC of Curitiba (Figure 1).


Curitiba’s NUC is a term created by the Curitiba Municipality which incorporates an amoeba-shaped form that surrounds the Mancha Urbana (Urban Stain) made up of the Municipality of Curitiba and the surrounding built up urban areas of sections from surrounding municipalities. The Curitiba Metropolitan Region (RMC) is a more used acronym locally, but is far beyond the limits of the city realm, hence choice to focus on Curitiba NUC only (Figure 2).


The project recognizes the organic shape of the Curitiba NUC as a living organism (Figure 3), as outlined by the living systems ideas outlined by Capra (1996, 2002) and West (2009), within which a series of (experiments, moments, actions, mutations, events) happen. The chief area of interest for this dissertation is in identifying these cell like entities within the urban form and to analyse them as possible catalysts for sustainable urban change. These entities can be urban actions, moments, processes, eruptions, or simply built changes in the urban realm.

city as livign organism
SOURCE: Authors Sketch

The City is not the problem. The City is the solution

Jaime Lerner reinvented urban space in Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape. But more work needs to be done. He is an architect and 3 times former mayor of the city. Heres his TED talk from March 2007, enjoy…

For further reading about the history of the city and its ecological urbanism achievments, heres a few goodies from the EcoCity Group Curitiba tours page:

Articles about past and present views of Curitiba..

Curitiba: the Greenest city on Earth, By Brian Barth (The Ecologist, 15th March 2014)

Curitiba and Hope, By Bill McKibben, (Mother Jones Tue Nov. 8, 2005)

Urban Acupuncture – Curitiba as an Allegory, By Yael Arbel, C2City (PDF presentation December 2012)

Where is the world’s greenest city? By Hayley Birch (Guardian, April 2015)

Jaime Lerner on Sustainability in Curitiba & ‘Urban Accupunture’, by Paula Alvarado (Treehugger 07)

CURITIBA, BRAZIL, Three decades of thoughtful city planning, by ? (

And a few critical ones, for good measure:

Cracks in the Curitiba Myth, By Greg Scruggs | November 1, 2013)

Au Brésil, Curitiba, l’ex-ville modèle d’Amérique latine, peine à se réinventer, by Thomas Diego Badia (Le Monde, 27 mars 2014, in French)

Ex-capital ecológica, Curitiba precisa reinventar sua marca, By Raphael Marchiori (Gazeta do Povo May 2014, in Portuguese)

Here is a list of some great places to check out in the city..

Outdoor public spaces:

Praça de bolso do ciclista – Small reclaimed square, designed and built by the public. Article here

Parque Gomm – An open public Civic Ecology project in the centre of the city. Article here

Unilivre – Brazil’s first Open University for the Environment, pure poetry. Article here

Praça da Rua Rio Mucuri – Reclaimed park in Bairro Alto.

 Physical spaces, cultural centres etc..

Bicicletaria Cultural – Amazing cultural space for fixing bikes, making art..

– Solar Do Barão – cultural art space, web & FB page

IPPUC, city planning research institute