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This article demonstrates how public control over the street was at the origin of modern urban planning in Lisbon.
The increased pressure over the street in the nineteenth-century city demanded increased public intervention, which was at the roots of urban planning as haussmsnn and as a body of theory.
The strategic character assumed by urban planning derived from the fact that it was at the crossroads of the most important problems that nineteenth-century cities experienced: The preparation of the first Haissmann law on urban planning and the first hasusmann plan resulted from this need to exercise public monopoly over the use of the city streets. However, the financial, political, and technical conditions defined the scope of possibilities for the programme of improvement and beautification of the Portuguese capital.
This article analyses the compromises between the forces driving modernisation and the limits of the possibilities. Cholera and typhus found a favourable environment in overcrowded areas with poor sanitation.
It was recognised that these activities should be strictly regulated by the State or even publicly owned. State intervention in supplying certain goods and services, which were insufficiently provided by private initiative and considered fundamental for solving environmental problems, gained importance as a means of controlling urban life.
According to Sutcliffe This administrative intervention could presuppose sophisticated means and processes. However, it has two components, one positive and the other negative. The first included the provision of basic infrastructures road networks, sanitary equipment. The second were all public initiatives that set limits on the use of urban land by its private owners, in order to avoid conflicts or negative externalities from land use density limits, reservation hauwsmann space for public and collective equipments.
The Italian legislation on urban planning distinguished between two types of intervention: Public roads became the favoured instrument for hausskann urban layout, with its double function of supporting the settlement of infrastructures and of defining the organisation of the building lots. This increasing pressure over the different functions performed by the street has several explanations. The agglomeration effect caused by the rising urban population affected urban land value, making it in an even more scarce and valuable good.
Population growth multiplied traffic, generating security problems, even in a city as Lisbon, which was less tumultuous than some larger metropolises. The new transport, water supply, and sewer and energy infrastructures led to more intensive use of the public thoroughfares, where these new networks of urban services were installed. The tortuous and narrow roads inherited from previous centuries, defectively paved, with steep grades and no rationality as a circulation network, needed rectification and enlargement.
Efficient pavements and water drainage were demanded by the growing use of public and private transport, and also to protect subterranean pipes. Lastly, the rise in building activity increased the pressure on the streets, occupied by construction materials or the refuse of demolished buildings. Nothing epitomized this new attitude and modernisation ideology better than the proposals of intervention in the urban layout, for the sake of simplicity here summarised under the heading of urban planning.
In several ways — in the modernisation blueprint, the financial mechanisms and even in lexical terms — this ideology derived from the same matrix as the programme of infrastructure modernisation, undertaken in Portugal by several governments between the s and s. Public investment in railways was the most well-known feature of this policy.
It was expected that both would lead Portugal to catch up with contemporary industrial economies and modern societies. The capital city was the only urban centre in Portugal that had the scale and the political and economic importance needed to require development patterns similar to those in other European cities. The next Section 2 signals the first references to the need for a plan for improvements in Lisbon as the outcome of the sanitary crisis of the s.
Section 3 approaches a second periodin which we see the attempt to change the face of the city, the result of an economic environment of greater prosperity and generalised optimism among the political, social, and technical elites, believing that it would be possible to transform Lisbon into a European metropolis.
The analysis ends with a third movement Section 4marked by the impact of the financial and banking crisis ofwhen the compromise between forces ed modernisation and the horizon of possibilities creates a peculiar counterpoint of intervention models in Lisbon. The first p thirds of the century was a period apris stagnation. During these years Lisbon was affected by political, economic, and sanitary problems.
The capacity of Lisbon to attract population was impaired by the loss of the trade monopoly with Brazil, followingand later by political instability, with periods of civil war that lasted until the mid-nineteenth century. Population growth was also aggravated planl several outbreaks of disease, mainly in the s and s. This negative trend in the evolution of population was reversed plxno the mids. However, its expansion became secondary in relation to that of the Northern valley, in the central area of the city, where the Avenida da Pariss and Avenidas Novas would be built, as the symbol of the programme for a modern city.
The cholera epidemics almost doubled the level of mortality, and in yellow fever increased the deaths in Lisbon to more than twice the average level. The evolution of the crude death rates for specific years in the nineteenth-century reveals the impact of this succession of diseases, supporting convictions that the Portuguese capital faced an important sanitary crisis Table 1.
Appalling sanitary facilities was condemned by medical societies and engineers, discussed in Parliament and the City Council, and criticized in the press. It was mostly a list of works demanding urgent action. In October all of the city councilmen quit in protest of the lack of financial means. Consequently, the responses to urban problems continued to be fragmented and fitful: The same occurred with urban renewal, with fortuitous and scattered interventions in order to rectify street alignments or widen thoroughfares in which circulation had become difficult.
The first references to a programme of urban improvements date from the s. It is important to look in some detail at the arguments presented, as they raise several important issues: They anticipated greater ambitions that became evident a decade later. The backwardness of Lisbon next to other European capitals and major cities was noticed and hence greater technical and financial support from the central government for the modernisation of the city was demanded thereafter, as is manifest in a municipal petition to the government at the end of 7.
Five months later, the necessity to modernise the capital was emphasised even more. After twelve years of important works and extensive construction of different railway lines, the already achieved easiness of communications anticipates an important development of activities in the capital at short notice. It will become even bigger after the railway connections between Portugal and central Europe.
The increased transactions will develop agriculture, industry and commerce. Lisbon could have the magnificent destiny of a great European metropolis, thanks to the railway construction, the installation of the telegraph, and the submarine cables, and to the rising maritime traffic.
Consequently, it was necessary not only to ensure the financial support from the government, but also the technical competences that the municipality of Lisbon did not have. The new urban symbols of the nineteenth century were set as goals to achieve, from the domestic comfort provided by energy and piped water to the icons of sociability and representation represented by the parks and boulevards.
Alternatively, building with no rules or criteria would continue, the modernisation of the sanitary facilities would be delayed, and the city of Lisbon would not seize the opportunities raised by the improvements in its domestic and international connections. The decree of the 31 st December established a new legal framework for public intervention in the city.
Place de la République (Paris)
As mentioned in the beginning, the street was under much greater pressure in its three basic functions of promoting accessibility, as a platform for organising building, and as social space. The claim for public control over the road network was a means to diminish and correct the existing elements of pressure and to mitigate the contradictions between its different functions.
Following this logic, the expansion of the urban space was carried out in a haphazard way, the result of scattered initiatives and without any type of layout design. The difficulties of circulation would grow worse in areas that had been the result of small hauss,ann, disperse, and un-articulated growth 9.
This is expressly recognised in the preamble to the decree of To provide for opening up new streets and improving those in existence, without demanding rules for the new works would be […] an incomplete work. The decoration of the cities, the free transit, the convenience and safety for the inhabitants, the public health and the need to prevent overcrowding, demand strict regulation.
Secondly, the intervention and control over public thoroughfares should favour circulation, widening and straightening streets, rationalising connections between areas densely built up, and improving the city exits to its surroundings. Public health was the third aspect dd as the main concern of public authorities. Fourthly, the overcrowding of urban space was considered to be noxious.
In search of the urban variable : Understanding the roots of urban planning in Portugal
The regulation of construction emerged as a corollary of this strategy of controlling public thoroughfares, due to the peculiar tension between built up space and public circulation space. Building layout of urban spaces would reconcile the purposes of hygiene, beautification, traffic, and overcrowding. It ce the possibility of generic expropriations for the execution of the improvement plan.
Instead of the lengthy process then in force for plan necessary expropriation for urban renewal and expansion 10this law declared right-of-way as public utility and expedited all the expropriations necessary for the execution of the improvement plan, after its approval by the government.
Hence, as soon as the improvement plan was approved, urban planning pkano be endowed with an ;lano process to do all the necessary expropriations. However, the results were disappointing in the following decade. The technical and financial support for municipal activity was slow to appear, which was reflected in the absence of any continued project for the modernisation of the capital during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. The economic and financial situation, started by the crisis ofparalysed public initiatives and private real estate investment.
The beginning of a prolonged ascending phase of real estate investment gives the first sign of change in the economic environment. Conversely, the s were characterised by an oo ease in obtaining credit for the municipality and private investors.
In w of this modest beginning, one of the city councillors integrated it in a larger programme of modernisation, aimed at improving the accessibilities and sanitation, at increasing the capacity of attraction, and the rehabilitation of the capital:.
The works of our grand boulevard [ Avenida da Liberdade ] will shortly start and pursue the movement of the material transformation of the city, with the opening and extension of several thoroughfares, and the making llano improvements — such as sanitary and others — which the city reclaims and the progress demands.
We are, therefore, in one of those solemn moments of transition […]. Tomorrow […] the capital is destined to represent, in the general movement of the country, mainly in relation with rapid transit [the railways], the important role assigned to its role as the first city of the kingdom, its greatness and traditions, its quality as seat of government, administration and commerce, namely its haussmaann geographical position.
Lisbon has to be the forehead of all our railways lines, the emporium where they converge, the heart where national life reflows to them, and must be the circulation of multiple arteries ramified by all the places in the country. Nevertheless, as it synthesised the ideal of beautification and modernisation of the city, the opening of the Avenue condensed this discourse of modernity at the beginning of this second period.
Modernity was based on the emulation of experiences of other great European cities, as a way to support competitiveness The city of Lisbon, due the advantages of its geographical situation, the sweetness of its weather, the magnificence of its harbour, and for the richness of its surroundings, may be proud of being one of the most prodigally ds by nature.
Lisbon may be able not dde of developing along the less prosperous, but also of disputing the primacy with the most beautiful capitals of the opulent nations. However, this will only be possible with work and progress. But Lisbon, dormant, paralytic, torpid and morbid, stayed behind all the neighbouring cities […]. London was crossed by several thoroughfares and built underground railways, enabling its population especially that of the City, to prevent overcrowding and get housed in more economic and healthier places.
Paris destroyed itself by half pairs exhibit its numerous boulevards, its twenty seven avenues and wants the glory of being named the great capital. More than a unified plan for urban expansion, it was for the most part a collection of interventions including road improvement in areas with dense construction, and the introduction ed public thoroughfares in places of recent development.
Haussmann e o plano de Paris
It synthesised the contributions of several projects over time, seeking solutions for some of the traffic problems the city faced. This was in response to two fundamental concerns of the municipality of Lisbon, going back decades: To these two problems corresponded two types of urban planning instruments, the regulating and extension plans, whose circulation in Europe was mentioned at f end of Section 1.
The intervention was similar to the regulating plans applied in haussjann countries, often also used to address sanitary issues. The interventions were piecemeal and atomistic, aimed at overcoming traffic restrictions or improving connections within the city. Nevertheless, this function of ordering traffic had important reflections on urbanisation. It sacrificed buildings to the road issues or stopped building on vacant land, which was expropriated for enlarging or constructing new streets.
It submitted new buildings or rebuilding works to the discipline of road alignment, still the main rule for orderly urban development the builders should comply with.