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The author highlights some of the most significant contrasts that exist in Rio de Janeiro commonly abbreviated as Rio, which is also the second biggest city in Brazil. The two distinctions lie in two images that the city reflects the first being the glamorous and elegant beaches such as the Copacabana and the Sugar Loaf which illustrate the city’s beauty. The second image is reflected through the less attractive favelas which are characterised by slum-like structures, crowded housing arrangement where it is approximated that 22% of the population lives in this structures accounting for 1.4 million inhabitants.

The most conflicting issues seem to be that high-end neighbourhoods are closely linked to the favelas where poverty-stricken families live. However, the government has taken up a role to refurbish some of the favelas through renovation as a way of improving the quality of life in the community.

The city is also known for being a host to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The event was, however, affected by a serious budget inflation and other unfortunate incidents such as protests. However, the renovation of the infrastructure was quite impressive. The author noticed the renovation of the Rio Branco Avenue, which constituted decongesting the heavily trafficked 6 lane road through a building of a light rail to reduce the buses in the city. The figure 1 clearly shows the contrast before and after the renovation.

Figure1: Rio Branco Avenue before and after renovation

Another outstanding renovation was the Praca Maua, which involved the demolition of a highway and the Museu do Amanha in its palace, which would attract tourists that came into the country for the Summer Olympics. The author is keen to point out that these new spaces which were renovated are acting us popular spots for tourists and have improved the public image of the city.

However, the point remains that there is a deeply socially conflicted city which is characterised by images of the divide between the rich and the poor in the city. Despite government efforts to refurbish the town, the images of the favelas against a backdrop of elegance within the beach areas is striking of the unending conflict and divide between resource sharing and development of urban spaces globally.

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


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