Curitiba, Brazil How a sleeping city became the best-planned one

Curitiba, once called the ‘sleeping city’, has toiled hard to rise and wake up to the title of the best planned city in Brazil and to being referred to as an international model for sustainable development


The capital of the state of Paraná in southern Brazil, it is certainly more than simply the result of a few successful projects. The city’s achievements talk of its strategic and integrated urban planning with people at the core of urbanism.
Curitiba has its share of innovative and all-inclusive planning geared toward the strategic need of making the city a better place to live, as defined in its Master Plan of 1965. From the 1990s, the city’s key focus has been on sustainable development and inclusion of Curitiba’s metropolitan region.

The principles laid out in the city plan facilitated planning for efficiency and sustainability even in tough circumstances especially during the military dictatorship, times of economic crisis in Brazil, and despite rising inflow of poor migrants into the city.
This all-embracing stratagem has taken consideration all parameters in urban planning including social, economic and environmental aspects. A well-defined plan and foresight coupled with strong leadership has resulted in an effective, long-term implementation of strategy.

What’s most unique about it is how it maximises the efficiency and productivity of transportation, land-use planning and housing development, such that they support one another to improve the quality of life in the city.
The city had no such unique landmarks or rich heritage to vaunt of, apart from a few architectural structures, yet its architects and urban planners have transformed it into a lively town with good quality of life that lures many a tourist. Over the past three decades, Curitiba’s population has grown two folds to reach 1.8 million.


From chaos to creativity
Curitiba transitioned through this radical innovation right from the epoch when the city was considered a mere outpost for travelers moving between São Paulo and the surrounding agricultural expanses. Its image from a city which earlier offered very few tourist attractions has refurbished to one which is now popular among foreigners, who refer to it as the urban ecological capital of Brazil.
As in many parts of the world, city plans in Brazil are often created but not implemented – particularly when major amendments are called for. The master plan created for Curitiba called for some extensive changes in the city’s natural environment, its public transportation system, and its central shopping district. Curitiba serves as an example of how a modern and progressive city plan can be fruitful.
As a planner first and mayor of Curitiba, Jaime Lerner developed a fundamentally unique vision for Curitiba: “It was a change in the conception of the city,” he told The Guardian, the leading UK-based publication some time back. “Working, moving, living leisure … we planned for everything together. Most cities in South America separate urban functions – by income, by age. Curitiba was the first city that, in its first decisions, brought everything together.”

Curitiba’s master plan focused on transportation with land use planning, calling for a complete physical, socio-economic and cultural transformation of the city. It modified the existing trends in travel and work by regulating growth in the central city, while furthering commercial development along the transport corridors radiating out from the city centre.

Sustainable urban planning
The paper went on to add that while Brasília is appreciated as a white elephant city, Curitiba set the gold standard in sustainable urban planning apart from having acquired the coveted title of “green capital” and often being tagged as the “greenest city on Earth”, as well as the “most innovative city in the world”.
Curitiba’s master plan focused on transportation with land use planning, calling for a complete physical, socio-economic and cultural transformation of the city. It modified

the existing trends in travel and work by regulating growth in the central city, while furthering commercial development along the transport corridors radiating out from the city centre.
It was partly closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrian streets were formed. Linear development along the arteries narrowed the focus and commute to the downtown area, diminishing day-to-day transport activity, thus minimising traffic bottlenecks and the typical peak hours in the mornings and the evenings. Instead, the rush hour in Curitiba now has heavy commuter movements in both directions along the public transportation arteries.


Success of the transit system
Other policies have also contributed to the success of the transit system. Land within two blocks of the transit arteries is earmarked for high density, as it generates more ridership per square foot. Beyond the two blocks, residential densities decrease proportionally to the increase in distance from transit ways.
Planners dissuade auto-oriented centres and direct new retail growth to transit corridors. Limited public parking is available in the downtown area, and most employers offer transportation subsidies, especially to low-skilled and low-paid employees to de-densify the centres.

The advantages of the systems include:
• Reduced transportation time: the per capita income loss due to severe congestion is ~ 11 and 7 times lower than in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively;
• Employment creation: The creation of the CIC has generated about 50,000 direct jobs and 150,000 indirect jobs, and about 20% of the state’s exports are from the CIC;

• Reduced fuel consumption: Curitiba’s fuel usage is 3% lower than in Brazil’s other major cities;
• Improved outdoor air quality and associated health benefits;
• Waste recycling: 70% of the city’s residents are actively recycling and 13% of solid waste is recycled;
• Increase in land value: Property values of neighbouring areas have appreciated, and tax revenues have increased;
• Reduced flood mitigation expenditures by promotion of park development in flood-prone areas (the cost of this strategy is estimated to be 5% lower than building concrete canals).

The BRT success story
The bus system of Curitiba typifies a model Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, and has played a key role in making the city rank high on the livability index. The buses here run frequently with some as quickly as every 90 seconds and are reliable.
The stations are at convenient locations, which are not just well-designed but are comfortable and attractive.

As a result, Curitiba has one of the most heavily used yet low-cost transit systems in the world. Around 70% of Curitiba’s commuters use the BRT to travel to work, resulting in congestion-free streets and pollution-free air for the 2.2 million inhabitants of greater Curitiba.
The popularity and wide acceptability of Curitiba’s BRT has led to a modal shift from automobile travel to bus travel. Twenty-eight percent of BRT riders previously traveled by car. Compared to eight other Brazilian cities of its size, the city consumes about 30 percent less fuel per capita, resulting in one of the lowest rates of ambient air pollution in the country.
Today about 1,100 buses make 12,500 trips every day, serving more than 1.3 million passengers—50 times the number from 20 years ago. About 80 per cent of travelers use the express or direct bus services. Best of all, Curitibanos spend only about 10 percent of their income on travel,much below the national average.
A clear strategy and vision of the future in Curitiba with smaller positive steps taken over the course of years have added up to a city that’s a model of ecological, people-centred urbanism and today is being read about as a model for sustainable planning.

CENTRAL PARK NEW YORK An exemplary urban design

Central Park exudes quietude amidst chaos of the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York. Planned during the mid-19th century as a recreational space for New Yorkers who burnt the midnight oil and lived in overpopulated dwellings, Central Park is valued today as a serene haven one can visit to do away with the stresses of urban life — a place where millions of residents and tourists come to experience the marvelousness of one of America’s greatest masterpieces



THE American Planning Association (APA) named Central Park as one of the Great Public Spaces in America in 2008. A classic model of public space that set a benchmark for park design throughout the US, Central Park stands as the most referred and revered of urban parks worldwide.
The park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and Calvert Vaux, submitted their winning entry – the Greensward Plan – to a design competition in 1858. It talked of innovative design approaches including that of sunken transverse roads with a lifelike landscape incorporating grading and plantings to evade the physical and visual disruption of traffic.
Apart from the native woodland on the northwest and notable rock outcrops, the huge 843-acre park was manmade, shaped from an ordinary site. By establishing a complex grading and underground drainage system, swamps were beautified to naturalistic lakes.

Soil was drawn in from New Jersey and molded into meadows while plants were sown and grown to form lush woodland and wild gardens. Initially, the park was designed to be rustic so it could replicate the countryside, but it constituted a few conventional design elements — the Mall, which was intended to attract visitors to the core of the park, and Bethesda Terrace at the terminus of the Mall, planned for as a palace for the people.
Between 1934 and 1960 when Robert Moses, the ‘master builder’ of New York, was the Park’s commissioner, amenities for recreation were focused more than the aesthetics. Informal sports fields were redesigned into baseball diamonds and greens for lawn sports. It was also during this time that the Central Park Zoo and the Conservatory Garden were built.
Moreover, playgrounds, ice-skating rinks, a swimming pool, and concession buildings were either reconstructed or

newly made. The commissioner also supervised creation of the Great Lawn by ordering the filling of the old reservoir.
‘The Father of Central Park,’ as Andrew Haswell Green, a New York City planner was known, served on the commission to create Central Park. He was quoted in a New York Times article in the 1893 edition saying, “Central Park did not happen. It was created, and by years of hard work along distinct lines.”

The park’s history talks of how it witnessed phases of relapse and renewal. The 1920s were the epoch that experienced worn carriage drives because of increased automobile traffic, muddy paths, dead trees and shrubs, neglected bridges and defacement through littering and vandalism.
The 1960s and ’70s marked another period of deterioration which ignited public engagement in a quest to retrieve the essence of the park. The absence of effective management coupled with financial inadequacy, in line with adverse effects of unregulated sports use and events of a scale unprecedented in the history of the park had altogether contributed to an alarming situation by the late 1970s.
The luxuriant lawns had been reduced to mere dustbowls, the paths and architecture were simply deteriorating; benches and light fixtures were damaged, graffiti spoke of vandalism, clogged catch basins resulted in regular flooding that only furthered the degradation of landscapes.
Central Park Community Fund and Central Park Task Force along with many of the civic groups united to battle the decline; they helped gather resources for park related projects and promoted stewardship by means of education, youth programmes, and volunteer initiatives.
Their support gave birth to the Central Park Conservancy, a private non-profit body that functioned to reinstate the condition of park in association with the citizens and took

over the responsibility for its management ever since 1980.
The park’s regulars and vigilant supporters who value their retreat in the concrete jungle of Manhattan have helped in its revival. The fundraising campaign efforts at Central Park were aimed at breaking the cycle of decline-and-restore that marked the park’s history before the 1980s.
Why every city must have a Central Park?
Without the burden of buying a ticket, one can leisurely spend time with friends and relatives on a plaid blanket in one of the fields of the Park. One can get drinks and food to enjoy a picnic whilst basking in the sunshine peeping from the trees above.
While lying on the green grass, one can look around the maples and dogwoods encircling the field to see the rectangle of large buildings, famously called “twice as high as the Great Wall of China” by the park’s designer 150 years ago.
One can also hear the music of the violins and cellos of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra contrary to the humdrum sounds of sirens and bus exhaust. For many of the residents, wherein Central Park is doubles as a shared backyard where they feel at ease, sleep, read, unwind, play sports, and even barbecue. It acts as sheltered escape to de-stress from the pressures of daily life.
The Park was not included in the original plan for Manhattan Island, but for the persistence of surveyor John Randel Jr, who eventually included the current Central Park to give an impetus to real estate.
Central Park is not considered to have been just built; it is considered a continuous development that unfolded in chronology from being a grid design of 1811 to now being considered a standard weave among city fabrics – this is how the Park has had its own share of ups and downs.
President of the Central Park Conservancy, Douglas Blonsky recollected how just a few years back, it had declined to the point where it was impossible to revive it.


The collective efforts of a citizen-government partnership forged 28 years prior then came to its rescue and breathed life back into the most cherished of New York’s landmarks, rendering it yet again the most beautiful and indeed the best-managed urban park in whole of the US. Well, that weaves the much unheard-of story of the most heard-of park in the world.

• If one were to calculate the value of Central Park, considering the average land value in Manhattan of about $1,000/sqft and imagining it were subdivided into small building lots, the total area of the park would come to about 35 million sqft, making it worth a whopping $35 billion
• As per one estimate, Central Park would cost the same as the entire state of Alaska – buying the park cost New York State legislature $7.4 million; Alaska, was bought by the US from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million
• Talking a walk all way along the Park would take around two hours at a normal pace

Amsterdam The bicycle friendly capital of the world

The Dutch capital’s historic canals lined by gabled houses unique in their architecture, candlelit cafes, whirring bicycles, lush parks, monumental museums, vibrant markets, impeccable dining, quirky shopping and the much talked about nightlife make Amsterdam one of Europe’s greatest cities


EVERY tourist can find his or her own bearing in this beautiful place with something to discover every half a kilometre and making it on foot or bike through the city streets is indeed worthwhile.
A travelogue I glanced through on the city of Amsterdam read: how anyone who has ever tried to make their way through the centre of Amsterdam in a car is abreast of the fact how the city is literally owned by cyclists. It is their sheer numbers that render the motorists powerless, striding their way through the streets, unbothered by traffic snarls or rules, making the most of their precedence whilst of course biking away the calories.

Facts about cycling in Amsterdam
» Amsterdammers bicycle about 2 million km on an average every day and about 57% of them use their bicycle daily even if it snows
» There are 881,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, which equals to about 4 times the number of cars; and the total distance of bicycle tracks in the city is about 400 km
» Amsterdam Central station is one of the most photographed sights in the city
» It has the only museum in the world where one can cycle the way through: the Rijksmuseum
» Bike user share in Amsterdam has risen by > 40% in the last 2 decades and around 35% of all trips within the city are by bike, compared to 22% by car
» The city plans to invest a whopping €120 million on bicycle infrastructure by 2020, €90 million of which is for creating 38,000 new bike parking places
» There are 7,800 official bike parking slots near Amsterdam Central station, but over 8,200 bicycles are usually parked there
» An estimated 100,000 bicycles are stolen in Amsterdam every year whereas between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles are pulled out of Amsterdam’s canals each year

Cyclists indeed rule in Amsterdam and sincere efforts have been taken to adapt the city to their preference which is reflected in the way how it is equipped with an elaborate network of bicycle lanes that are safe and comfortable – so much so that even the kids and the elderly use bikes as the easiest and most preferred mode of transport. And yes, it isn’t just the city of Amsterdam that vaunts of a network of cycle-paths, so is the case in all Dutch cities.
Amsterdammers enjoy riding a variety of bicycles right from the old-style classic Dutch cycle ‘Omafiets’ with a step-through frame to the latest bikes, be it road bikes, mountain bikes or even the reclining bikes.
Many tourists who flock to Amsterdam go around the city by bike as it is the typical Dutch way, while others opt for bicycle group tours through the city. Bicycling, in fact all traffic in general, is relatively safe and hence appreciated by both the tourists and residents alike.
Amsterdam is not just the most bicycle-friendly capital in the world, but with an urban area population of more than 1.1 million, it is also tagged as the most bicycle-friendly city. About 60% of trips are made by bike in the inner city and 40% overall in the greater city area.
Bikes are known as ‘fiets,’ while the cyclists as ‘fietsers;’ the bicycle parking stations are called ‘fietsenstalling’ whereas the bike paths are termed ‘fietspad’.

As is common in Dutch cities, Amsterdam has a huge network of traffic-calmed streets and state-of-the-art facilities for cyclists. They have bike paths, bike racks and several guarded bicycle parking stations which can be used for a nominal fee. In 2006, the total count of bicycles in Amsterdam was around a million.
Owing to their convenience and the city’s small size, the 400 km expanse of bike paths, flat terrain, and the probable inconvenience of driving a car are factors encouraging cycling by all socio-economic groups. Using automobiles is discouraged, parking fees are expensive, and few roads are blocked to cars or are declared one-way for motor vehicle traffic (but not for cyclists). To differentiate the bike paths from both the road ways and footpaths, Amsterdam’s bike paths are demarcated in red.

Peculiarity of the city
There are more bikes than humans in Amsterdam and the city is fully centred around two-wheeled transportation. Interestingly, cycle paths meander from the city’s centre to the fringes, easing travel for cyclists. Although cycling is considered as a recreational sport in many places, the Dutch have incorporated two-wheeling as a way of life for over a century and have in place such excellent road-safety skills pertaining to bicycles that are unheard of elsewhere.

The trend goes on, thanks to Netherlands’ geography and climate, as most of the country lies on flat ground and has a generally pleasant weather, making it a favourable place for cyclists.
Biking is how Amsterdammers commute to work, go to the shop, and meet up for a dinner date in this compact city. Plenty of bike-rental shops make it easy to gear up and get going.
If locals aren’t on a bike, they may well be on water. With its canals and massive harbour, one can choose to either hop aboard a canal boat or ride on one of the free ferries behind Central Station.

Cycling their way forward
Many of the old cycle paths in Amsterdam do not comply with the existing benchmarks and therefore need to be reconstructed. Some are not wide enough to accommodate the large number of people using them.
Newer ways to augment the parking capacity are now being planned so that more space can be dedicated for cyclists and pedestrians.
There are plans for development of more facilities for cyclists. Planners and citizens of Amsterdam now have a huge responsibility to tap the opportunity that lays ahead and to maintain the status quo that Amsterdam basks in: being celebrated as the ‘Bicycle-friendly capital of the world.’


The island city state Singapore, which is almost the size of Mumbai, stands as one of the megacities with a prospering tourism industry attracting over 16 million tourists, about 3 times the total population of Singapore.
Among the many popular destinations it vaunts, Clarke Quay is one that expands as a flourishing riverside commercial, residential and entertainment precinct with a historical value. The winner of ‘2007 Cityscape Architectural Review Award’ and the Cityscape Asia Awards, apart from begetting ‘Best Waterfront Development in 2008’, its awards bear testimony of the fact of its boom. From Marina Bay, a walk along the Singapore river will take you through the three quays of the city, each offering a different atmosphere.

Boat Quay features historical sites and a buzzing riverfront vibe, Robertson Quay charms the leisurely wanderer, while Clarke Quay caters to the party crowd, appealing to more than 2 million visitors a year.

Clarke Quay is a perfect example of strategic urban design and historic conservation through ‘adaptive reuse.’ It is referred as a modern example of riverfront transformation and redesigning of unappealing architecture façade of old townhouse structures and warehouses to modern day restaurants and cafes. Character of the place: During day time, boat cruises offer rides with delicious cuisines for brunch, a vivid view of

colourful buildings, a serene atmosphere for tourists relaxing, eating and enjoying the cityscape overlooking the river.
At night, the beer bars, wine cellars and an array of seafood restaurants offer a scene of ‘a human zoo’ i.e. of a crowd socialising, partying and grooving on the boats that become pubs and flaunt vibrancy with their colourful lighting, music mixed with smell of beer, wine and smoke.

Complementing element of space: Creative articulation of space is perceived at this quay which makes it a pedestrianised street and beautiful riverside promenade. It also enjoys an interesting contrast in function of place in both history and present as well as day and night.


Rhythm in visual element: Buildings painted in pastel shades with many having rooftop establishments vaunting a view of Singapore’s skyline make them a picturesque spot by the riverside, unfolding a story of the renovation process of the then godowns and shop houses into trendy bars of today.
People and activities: Locals, expats and tourists can be spotted at the place in large numbers. A host of family-friendly activities and cultural visits are organised that are perfect for daytime with Bumboat cruises that run from 9 to 11pm and navigate up and down the river like colonial times; rendering the overall experience to nothing less than a treat to all senses.

Clarke Quay festival village, the biggest conservation project for the Singapore river, was opened in December 1993. Later, it was managed and owned by CapitaLand. Works were initiated to restore the area to impart the place a better tenant mix. The development also saw key modifications to the exterior and riverside areas. Alsop Architects, an international architecture practice was assigned the work of redesigning the shop house facades, streetscapes and riverfront dining areas to be implemented in 2 phases.

Clarke Quay before 1980s
In 1819, the quay was declared a free port and it soon crammed with shipping activities. Clarke Quay, named after Sir Andrew Clarke, the then governor of the Straits Settlements, had been a busy shipping place for more than a century since the 1840s. Between 1850s and 1990s, most of the buildings were two-storied shop houses and godowns. The river was Singapore’s primary sewer and it started to get polluted.
In 1977, the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew called for a comprehensive Singapore river cleanup programme owing to which it shifted from a working area into a recreational waterfront. The project got completed in 1987 with all the industries, squatters and hawkers removed.

Clarke Quay from 1980s to 2002
In 1986, a Tourism Product Development Plan was drawn up to revitalise the river district by dividing it into three sub-zones: Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay wherein each area was to be regenerated by activities like entertainment, hotels and retails.


In 1989, Clarke Quay was acquired by the government and given conservation status owing to its historical importance and unique architecture (identified for its sensitive combination of conservation and adaptive reuse of its warehouses and two-storied shop houses). The first phase of revitalisation commenced in the 1990s after the entire area was leased to a single developer – DBS Land (later CapitaLand). Under stringent Urban Design Guidelines, restoration was to be carried out by a private developer, as per ‘R’ rules – ‘maximum Retention, sensitive Restoration and careful Repair’.
In 1998, a continuous promenade was constructed, which extended up to the west end of the river, around 3 km on each side with a width between 10-15 m providing space for dining areas overlooking the river. The Clarke Quay was finally converted from a family oriented festival market into a pub zone. And in 2001, it became a tourist-oriented place with pubs, discos, restaurants, and factory outlets.
In 2003, CapitaLand announced the new renovation plan to re-design the streetscape and waterfront and to address the climate issue without creating an internal air conditional mall.

Thus, along the riverfront, a series of “lilypads”, that are elevated dining platforms, were created to maximise the waterfront experience, and lights that resembled traditional Chinese lantern were put up, enlivening the river’s edge.
To deal with the climate issue, huge canopies were installed in all internal streets and courtyard cantilevering over the shophouse roofs; these were called “angels”, supported by steel frames (comprising mini-fans and a water feature sprouting water at 16 degree C). A central water fountain erected in the courtyard was to help with cooling along with an overall climate control system to reduce the temperature at a gentle 28 degree C in the afternoon.

Implementation of this new plan was divided into phases (in 2004):
1st phase – completed in Jan 2005 with the new “lilypads”.
2nd phase – started from 2005 with installation of huge canopies “Angels”.

The Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA) was engaged in the design process to ensure renovation abiding the

conservation guidelines; the renovated Clarke Quay was opened in December 2006 with a 24-hour entertainment license and 100% occupancy rate. The rental revenue doubled compared to the beginning of the regeneration in 2004.

At present, five blocks of restored warehouses feature restaurants and nightclubs. There are also moored Chinese junks that have been refurbished into floating pubs and restaurants. The Satay Club and several establishments vacated Clarke Quay to make way for new tenants and the upgraded Clarke Quay features the Zirca, The Clinic and the Forbidden City by the Indochine Group. The Clarke Quay area is different from 1993. One of the most popular attractions is its exciting host of CQ’s signature events happening once every quarter.
With a total site area of 21,428 sq m, Clarke Quay lives on as an exemplary model of a conserved historical landmark located along the Singapore river and at the fringe of the Central Business District, inviting tourists and locals back to the historic waterfront.

BARCELONA Innovative urban planning

Ranked among the top 10 Smart Cities worldwide and acclaimed as a leader of “Global City Standards”, Barcelona is also applauded for its innovative urban planning.


The city provides an ideal model of urban management and has interesting case studies of inner city renewal, brownfield site development, peripheral reforms and planning for a sustainable city.
The socio-economic patterns clearly reflect the processes associated with urban growth and change, and models of urban processes and structure can be easily applied.
The second largest city in Spain with a population of 1.6 million (in 2014), Barcelona spans across a hundred sq km and has a density of 14.9 people / sq km. More than 10 million sq m floor space is utilised for economic activities, while the beaches expand over a wide 4.5 km area.

The guiding principles of Barcelona’s Urban Planning include:
• Focusing – creation of public amenities in dilapidated neighbourhoods
• Orienting city – back to Mediterranean Sea by creating access and usable beaches
• Providing adequate public facilities to every neighbourhood
• Reuse of brownfields through sustainable planning
• Restricting urban sprawl – focusing on redevelopment instead of new development
• Reclaiming famous inner courtyards (which act as open spaces) within each block

The Eixample is widely considered as one of the best designed city areas in the world and a case study for leading architects and urban planners. With its well-integrated rail transit, it serves as a model of urban design, land use, transportation planning, and pedestrian-scaled streets working in synergy to produce accessibility.
Eixample is a district of Barcelona that came up in 19th century and lies between the old city and surrounding small towns. Built as an extension (hence the name “Eixample”), the 7.5 sq km district is characterised by a long straight street with a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues. It has octagonal city blocks that are rectangular with the corners cut off, which are distinctive for Barcelona.
This was the visionary, pioneering design by Spanish urban planner Ildefons Cerdà, who considered traffic and transport along with sunlight and ventilation in coming up with his characteristic octagonal blocks.

Salvador Rueda, director, Barcelona Urban Ecology Agency, and his team worked on the possibility of a new more efficient bus network and designed an orthogonal network of bus routes that is being implemented.


The city faced serious problems of urban decay in both inner and peripheral areas, but the 1992 Olympics acted as a major catalyst of modern transformation. The district planners used the Games as a mechanism to acquire enough funding to complete an amount of reconstruction that would take any city decades to accomplish.
Olympic facilities were built on neglected urban areas with the Olympic Village being developed on brownfields close to the coast. Six artificial beaches were created to handle the tourists that would be in the city for the Games.
Planner Oriol Bohigas used the Games as a springboard to build more than 200 parks, plazas, schools, and other public facilities in Barcelona. Most of these amenities were planned in derelict areas where crime rates were estimated to be high.

1860- Walls surrounding Barcelona demolished to make way for Ildefons Cerdá’s Plan for Urban Renewal
1975- End of Francis Franco’s regime and the beginning of democracy
1976 – General Metropolitan Plan implemented
1979 – First democratic municipal elections were celebrated
1980’s – City is transformed in preparation for the 1992 Olympics
1980 – Architect Oriol Bohigas arrived in the city council
1983 – The inauguration of public spaces started
1982-92 – More than 490 acres of park had been developed (while 40 years of Franco produced only 172 acres)


The new system, when completed, will reduce the numbers of routes from 94 to 28, waiting time to

Superblock is the key to reclaim public space that people lost over the last century.

According to Rueda, a Superblock is defined by a grid of 9 blocks where the roads outside are dedicated for main mobility whereas the roads within are for local transit only.
The one-way system inside the Superblock makes it impossible to cut through to the other side. That gives neighbours access to their garages and parking spaces but keeps the Superblock clear of through traffic.


Phase I: Maximum speed on roads within Superblock is Phase 2: It will transform city life and the way people use public spaces. Curb side parking within Superblocks will disappear (by building off-street garages), and maximum speed will be 10 km/h, allowing people to use the streets for games, sport and cultural activities, such as outdoor cinema.
Post Implementation of Phase I & Phase II: Barcelona will have cut 355 km of roads dedicated to motorised traffic (a 61% reduction). Pedestrians will enjoy 94% of the space on inner streets of Superblocks and pollution will be reduced dramatically. 94% of the population will not be exposed to dangerous levels of particulate matter and 73.5% will not experience noise levels over 65 dB. Rueda and his team estimate that the volume of traffic, after implementing phase two, will be reduced by 21%.

Barcelona’s Urban Mobility Plan: Towards A More Sustainable City ModelThe Urban Mobility Plan of Barcelona 2013-2018 attempts to lay down guidelines in matters of mobility in the coming years, with a clear focus on sustainability. The principal objective is to achieve implementation of Superblocks with a level of traffic network saturation similar to the present.
Alternative transportation will be better implemented (new orthogonal bus and bicycle networks, carpool and pedestrian lanes, etc.), and restrictive measures will be placed on private vehicles, such as increase in the price of metered parking.

The Plan has established 4 main lines of work: Safety by decreasing accidents, sustainability by reducing the use of private motorised vehicles, equity by guaranteeing access to mobility for all people and efficiency by reducing the economic/congestion costs of the transport system. The wide avenues and boulevards of Cerda’s Plan give ample room for multi-modal infrastructure.

Walking has long been a priority – La Rambla, one of the best people streets in the world. Cerda’s Eixample (Expansion) plan made walking enjoyable almost everywhere – 50 percent of all street space is dedicated to walking space, with the other 50 percent for all other forms of ‘traffic.
Barcelona has favourable conditions for pedestrian mobility. Moreover, some municipal activities are currently promoting this mode of mobility such as the continuously improving accessibility in pedestrian areas.

‘Bicing,’ the public urban bike sharing system inaugurated by the City Council in 2007, counts currently 1.2 lakh users who generate 14 million trips/year, representing 36% of total bike trips, and plays a key role in promoting bicycle mobility with Barcelona offering a total 181 km of bike lanes. Urban biking is growing fast in Barcelona, spurred on by the locals-only bike share system, and very simple bike-lane approaches (some separated, some not) to improve bike safety. When the city has incorporated separated bike-lanes, it’s taken from the 50 percent that’s for the rest of traffic, not from the walking half.

Barcelona is a huge city, but the modern and extensive public transport system allows you to get anywhere within the city in no time. Metro, buses and trams run very frequently until late at night. Apart from that, there are several cable cars, funiculars, railways, sightseeing buses, taxis, local trains, night buses and other transport systems.
The Barcelona metro has eight lines (five conventional lines and three automated lines) and incorporates the Montjuïc funicular. Altogether, there are 141 stations and over 134 trains operating in the rush hour. With a fleet of over a thousand vehicles, all of which are wheelchair adapted, and more than 100 lines, the bus network covers over 900 km between Barcelona and the ten cities in the metropolitan area.
Council is carrying out several improvements to encourage the use of public transport. One of these projects is the implementation of the new orthogonal bus network of the city, which will improve current service efficiency by increasing the buses commercial speed.

Private vehicle mobility represents 18% of internal trips, but up to 42% of connection trips. That means traffic reduction in Barcelona involves discouraging private vehicle mobility between the surrounding municipalities and the city of Barcelona. This tendency shows that now is the time to take restricting actions towards private vehicles and to promote more sustainable transport modes.
Barcelona is one of those cities where you have many choices in how to get around, and the urban form facilitates those choices. Because of the densities and mix-of-use, walking, biking and transit are always viable options. The “power of nearness” with everything compact and close, facilitates a multi-modal city.

22 @ Barcelona: the innovation district


The Special Infrastructure Plan aims at the implementation of modern service infrastructure in the technological district of Poblenou 22@. Envisaged services are Energy, Telecommunications (optic fiber), District heating and pneumatic refuse as well as Waste collection systems. These new networks give priority to energy efficiency and responsible management of natural resources.
1. Underground galleries-easy access to service network
When the 22@Barcelona Plan was approved, the infrastructure network in the Poblenou industrial area was insufficient. A New Special Infrastructure Plan for urban improvements on 37 km of streets in the 22@Barcelona district with highly competitive utility infrastructure was created. A new model of urbanisation and underground infrastructures comprised a modern network of energy, telecommunications, district heating and pneumatic waste collection systems. The core network distributes all these services throughout the district. From there, service galleries cross the core network taking the services to a technical room in each block from where services are distributed to the different buildings in the block.
2. Automated waste collection system – a clean and efficient waste collection
The pneumatic and selective waste collection system minimises noise pollution from the traditional waste collection methods and improves quality of urban spaces as waste containers disappear from the streets. In the 22@Barcelona district, the waste collection system has been operational since 2006. The system consists of a network of fixed collection points that are strategically distributed. The drop-off points collect the three basic waste fractions (organic waste, inorganic waste and paper) and are connected via a vacuum network through the pipes installed under the streets and transported to the collection plant, where a hydraulic press compacts the waste to reduce its volume (resulting in less traffic and noise).

3. Integral waste management plant- waste to energy treatment plant
This integral installation comprises a Mechanical and Biological Treatment plant (also called ecoparc) followed by a Waste to Energy plant, with a global capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year. The installation receives the municipal waste fraction not selected in origin. Firstly, it is treated in the mechanical and biological treatment plant and the main goal in this phase is separating recoverable materials such as paper, glass, different plastics, ferrous metals and organic matter. The rest of this first treatment goes automatically to the energy recovery plant, where this municipal waste is burned in three furnaces with a capacity of 15 tonnes per hour. This process generates electrical energy and steam to the cooling and heating network.

Barcelona being a compact high-density city has enabled it to have integration with transportation network. Having less paved built-up areas has allowed Barcelona to preserve green spaces. Less sprawling development reduces the cost of providing and extending urban infrastructure investments; it also makes transportation operation and maintenance, water and sanitation, and energy distribution systems less expensive.
Barcelona’s energy use is considerably lower than its comparative similar sized cities. Since vehicle kilometres travelled per capita are much lower in Barcelona, far less fuel is consumed in the transport sector and CO2 emissions are considerably lower. More compact form can help reduce more emissions.
Additional benefits of compact urban form may include economic productivity gains from urban agglomeration and increased opportunities to instil a sense of community through increased social interactions. A hierarchically structured urban planning system is found in this city of Barcelona, Spain and offers a learning experience for budding urban planners, designers, architects and burgeoning cities in the world.

SkyWay Technologies Co. in India


September 2017, India, Delhi. General designer Anatoly Yunitskiy and Deputy of SkyWay project designing organization Victor Baburin became a part of the official delegation from Belarus, representing the interests of the national economy at the business forum. The event was timed to the visit of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to India. As a result of the participation, SkyWay officials have signed three agreements: with one of the Indian States, with a port, as well as in the framework of the development program “Smart Cities”.
The Company has outlined its marketing strategy in the region. The Company intends to focus on “ensuring affordable transport services in such areas that were largely ignored before” — the market segment where SkyWay will be able to avoid competition with the major transport corporations.

The technology was first presented at Smart Cities India and was followed by a series of materials trying to anticipate the exact profit to India and Make in India idea. The brightest of non-engineer events was that at the initiative of Tibet’s spiritual leader Dalai Lama, SkyWay General Designer Anatoly Yunitskiy met with him at Dharmshala. Now the Company gets ready to the International Railway Equipment Exhibition in Delhi. The certification of string transport has started in September 2017 In Belarus.
The article describes the dynamics in SkyWay development in India.


The project was conceived by engineer and inventor Anatoly Yunitskiy. In 2013 more research revealed the feasibility of the use of String Transport Systems for passenger rail in New South Wales. SkyWay transport systems is created for passenger and cargo traffic on the “second level”, when the transport runs using “strings” in the air. Main types of string transport are unibus, unibike and unitrack (cargo).
First samples of urban railcar U4-210 and personal light railcar U4-621 were revealed at a international railway exhibition Innotrans 2016 in Berlin in September 2016. Plans of implementing technology in Indonesia were announced after RailwayTech 2017 exhibition. Implementing SkyWay lines in Indonesia is planned with “Surabaya – Jakarta” line.
Having passed a range of international expert evaluations, the innovative SkyWay string system has proved its validity. At present, its main aim is to create an operating model of SkyWay testing and certification center in Belarus – EcoTechnoPark. On demand as part of certification process EcoTechnoPark can be launched in India before building working string transport lines.


At the end of April 2017 SkyWay hosted important guests in Belarus. The design organization, production facility and SkyWay demonstration center were visited by a delegation of Dharmshala municipality. Throughout its history, the SkyWay Group of Companies is not only engaged in innovative developments, but also saw its mission in promoting dialogue between business and the Government machine, regardless of a country and part of the world that acting and possible partners represent. Representatives of these two sectors shared their opinions on the Company’s developments as positive.

In May 2017 SkyWay were presented at the Smart Cities India International Exhibition. Prior to this, the SkyWay presented its solutions at the RailwayTech 2017 in Indonesia in April and enjoyed the attention of the country authorities and local press. Thanks to the Smart Cities program, SkyWay projects can be upscaled throughout the entire country, since it has been developed by the Country’s Parliament to modify urban areas and to create infrastructure for a stable society in 109 cities.
SkyWay plans in India include opening of local company, based in India and accountable to Indian tax and legal bodies. The technology will be localized. Local manufacture will be launched, it will create new work positions and support labour interests of people of India.
The way the company sees its development in India addresses to Make in India programm and principles and shows the perspectives of investing into India to other Eurasian companies.
Now the negotiations take part in numerous Indian states. Local governments see great potential in string transport for both passenger and cargo transportation. The innovation is recognized as a working model and working alternative to many futuristic but non-realistic hyperloop-like transport.
Memorandum of Understanding was signed in the city of Dharmshala and trilateral investment agreement was signed for Jharkhand state.


As any other innovation string technologies meet some dose of scepticism. An example of destructive scepticism is seen very well in “Lithuanian case”. A brilliant example of politically motivated bureaucratic murder of the business. In 2014 SkyWay project was planned in Lithuania but after successful start and initial business steps it was paused due to politically motivated investigation which has started.


Investigation was used to force the company to leave the country, making negative hype in mass media and trying to pursue the company through The Bank of Lithuania pressure.
As any other post-soviet country, including Belarus, after restoration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990s Lithuania uses rhetoric of pro-national support of industries. The business was perceived as Russian-Belarusian economic “invasion”. And vindicated to move to some other place. To Belarus. Pre-trial investigation was closed June 2017. It lasted for three years – proper period to be sure that the business will move to other country and will develop enough not to come back and restart everything in Lithuania. Needless to say that that pre-trial investigation № 06-1-00068-14 was closed because of simply having no any data collected for any type of criminal consideration.


Sometimes SkyWay is being compared with RopeWay. This comparison is a misleading practice, as difference is too big, but people simply have nothing to compare with. The core operation principle is different. At RopeWay passenger cars are driven by ropes and the ropes move special traction stations on each support. At SkyWay rolling stock includes a special trolley with independent drive movine moving a transport unit. It supports only bear a track.
Basis of transport system is differs as well. At RopeWay the basis is a steel rope, which must be replaced every 8-10 years, what leads to additional CAPEX, downtime losses and considerable inconveniences. SkyWay has flexible uncut track structure. The basis is a composite rail, service life of which is more than 50 years. The system provides 24/7 operation and replacement or repair of a rolling stock does not affect the operation of the entire track.
Still the main and most powerfull advantage of SkyWay is safety. RopeWat safety level is low: rope breakage collapses the whole system. The fall of a car from a huge height is possible and it has no antiterrorist protection at all, as well as it is instable to extreme conditions and stresses.
At the same time SkyWay system uses automated control and anti-derailment system, which increase traffic safety by another 10 times and transport is resistant to vandalism and acts of terrorism. Location of the track structure above the ground enhances safety by approximately 100 times. Anti-derailment system does not allow a rolling stock to fall even if there are significant damages, damage of a string stops movement only at 1 span.


Victor Baburin, SkyWay Technologies Co. Deputy, comments: We have made sure that India is a unique market for SkyWay. First, because India is reaching the leading positions in the rate of economy growth. At the same time, about USD 1,500 of GDP per capita confirms the fact that transport technologies ensuring low-cost of travel fare will be in demand. That’s why SkyWay offering transportation solutions interested representatives of authorities and potential customers. Primarily, as a technology having no analogues and, secondly, as the technology proceeding with the stage of a fully-featured industrial prototype.
In this case, we are in line with the theory on breakthrough innovations that claims major Companies are primarily interested in sales of their products to major customers leaving thin markets aside unnoticed. Here small innovative Companies are coming out to the foreground. They offer their low-cost and affordable product, be it not of the same quality as the major competitors have. However, they are interested in search of new markets and they start to work at the markets that are not of interest to major Corporations.
In the course of our work in India, we have found such extensive market niches, where SkyWay is organically a pathfinder and is of great interest to customers. Primarily, it is the market niche of container haulage and the so-called “system of feeders” or transportation servicing of major logistics hubs.

*This is a content feature. The views expressed in the article are that of the company.