This paper describes the research methodology and interventions proposed for a 30km linear park along the main river system of the city of Recife, Brazil.

This project has been commissioned by the Municipality of Recife to the Federal University of Pernambuco – UFPE and it has been developed in the last two years by a multidisciplinary team coordinated by InCiTi, a group focused on research and innovation for the city.

The aim of the project is to provide a strategic plan that tackles environmental, spati al and social issues. However, the project extrapolates the immediate boundaries that are under the influence of the river system, given the fact that such change in the social – spatial configuration of the city is perceived as a framework or initial structure of support that will ignite the transformation of the city.

Therefore the proposed park seeks elements that are able to promote the reinvention of the city, grounded mainly on expanding the potential and qualities of existing public spaces and the vacant or underused areas along water courses, with the aim of intensifying the use of these spaces for people and improving their connection with the city. Most of the strategies proposed in the project are based on structuring vital and sustainable places and on the priority for public and non-motorized modes of transportation.

One of the main challenges in this research is how to reconnect citizens and river. Recife is a city that is nearly 500 years old where the relation between city and river has drast ically changed in time. In the early years and to a certain extent during the expansion of the city, the river was one of the main structures of transport and connection among the initial settlements that formed the city. The advent of the car and other modes of transportation in parallel with the expansion of the city to areas not directly related to the river, reverts the former relation between city – river; spaces along the water are no longer at the centre but at the city ́s periphery.

That inversion of the role of the spaces along the river is evident in the analysis of the axial map of Recife. The structure of the river represents a gap in the continuity of the city fabric. Such divide is even more relevant when combining the syntactic analysis with data regarding income, access to public services and public spaces. In the current setting, the river segregates social groups, it is a barrier to fluid circulation in the city, a void in the urban fabric. The Park project aims to bridge this void in the city structure using a network of public spaces, connected mainly by cyclist and pedestrian paths.

The main expected outcome of this project, apart from everything related to the improvement of the environmental conditions, is the use the spatial structure of a park as a framework that can reweave a divided city.

Palavras-chave: Public spaces, spatial segregation, non-motorized mobility, urban vitality

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