Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Architect/Mayor/Governor Jaime Lerner of Curitiba, Brazil (1/2)

Architect Jaime Lerner (1937) played a central role in the development of Curitiba. As a student he was involved in the first ideas about an alternative plan for Curitiba and after his graduation as an architect in 1964 he got involved in the founding of the Instituto de Persquisa e Planejamento Urbano de Curitiba (IPPUC – Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba). After his first successes as director of the IPPUC Lerner was appointed by the military regime as mayor (prefeito) of Curitiba (1971-1975), aged 33 years old. In 1979 a second term followed (1979-1984) and in 1988 he ran for the third time, now in a democratic Brazil. He announced his candidacy 12 days before the elections and got elected for his third and last term as a mayor of Curitiba (1989-1992). In this position Lerner had the opportunity to implement and refine the reforms that he himself had suggested in the masterplan before. After being a mayor Lerner was elected in 1994 as a governor of the state of Paraná, and got re-elected in 1998. Since 2002 he is active as an architect again and he advices the United Nations in the reconstruction of Kabul and New Orleans, for which Curitiba is taken as a reference.

Abraham Maslow said: “…If you just have a hammer, you’ll approach every problem as a nail …”. Lerner looked further than the usual architectural toolbox and regarded architecture as a materialized system. In his words: “…If you present the solution as a bus, than it is a bus. If it is presented as a system however, people will understand…” Lerner considered architecture not to be product based, but service based.

Photo: Lerner (Center) at the inauguration of the Bus Express System in 1974.
Book: Acupuntura Urbana

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