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Jaime Lerner: A song for sustainable cities

Mar 8th 2010
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Jaime Lerner changed urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape. For many city governments seeking visible improvements in their congested streets, the pace of change is measured in months and years. For Jaime Lerner, it’s measured in hours. As mayor of Curitiba, he transformed a gridlocked commercial artery into a spacious pedestrian mall over a long weekend, before skeptical merchants had time to finish reading their Monday papers.

Since then he’s become a hero not only to his fellow Brazilians, but also to the growing ranks of municipal planners seeking greener, more sustainable cities. His dictum that “creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget” has inspired a number of his unique solutions to urban problems, including sheltered boarding tubes to improve speed of bus transit; a garbage-for-food program allowing Curitibans to exchange bags of trash for bags of groceries; and trimming parkland grasses with herds of sheep.


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Jaime Lerner: A song for sustainable cities

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