Masterplan Paraty, Paraty, Brazil
Bernardes Arquitetura

Recently, Paraty, an important historical town in colonial Brazil, has become world-renowned for its unique quality of merging a historic architectural complex, a lush forest and a calm bay, three hours away from the country’s largest metropolises of Rio and São Paulo. The city, whose historical center remained exceptionally preserved (officially being considered for listing by the Unesco), hosts today important international events such as the International Literary Festival of Paraty. However, the pressure that these activities have placed on local populations and the environment brought about key challenges to accommodate the city’s unprecedented urban growth.
The recent completion of the Paraty-Cunha road (RJ-165) through the Serra da Bocaina mountain range is an important trigger to this project as it directly connects the city to Via Dutra (BR-116), the main expressway linking Rio to São Paulo. This new connection reduces the travel time between São Paulo and Paraty in 40 minutes, bringing the region closer to the largest urban and business center in Latin America, and the heavily industrialized Paraíba Valley.
Today, Paraty’s urban development is locked between its surrounding mountains and the bay. The project site, a former 1.3Ha-palm tree farm (five times the current urban footprint of the historical part of the city), is among the few available real-estates in the area and is in a key location along the Paraty-Cunha road, the new gateway to the city. With this in mind, the project established three macro-planning areas: I. the edge of the Paraty-Cunha road with denser commercial activities; II. the multipurpose core weaved to the new Matheus Nunes river park; III. the area reserved for exclusively residential developments. In order to achieve greater connectivity among these areas, and to link them to remaining forest fragments around the site, the project uses integrated urban and landscape design solutions 
Its open space system is organized in three types: I. conservation areas for wildlife; II. ecological parks; and III. greenways. The first is composed of green corridors, mainly for ecological restoration of native species combined to road configurations that prioritize pedestrians and bikers. The ecological parks make the transition between these corridors with the urbanized area while offering large green areas for recreation in contact with nature and outdoor activities. The greenways are densely vegetated streets close to conservation areas, which are paired with the small neighborhood plazas to play the role of ecological corridors on a smaller scale.
In addition to the project’s ‘green infrastructure’ strategies, specific ‘blue infrastructure’ measures have been designed to create low-impact drainage systems with the use of bio-swales, rain gardens and the maximization of permeable surfaces. These allow the infiltration of water in the soil, allowing the aquifer to recharge improving water quality and substantially reducing flood risks. These features have been fully integrated into the design of sidewalks, roads, bike paths and parks to seamlessly distribute low-impact infrastructures throughout the site. These are also being added to roads weaving the surrounding urban fabrics to link them to the systems implemented by the project.
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