For this next post, I want to revisit the oldest favela in Rio de Janeiro- Morro da Providencia- a favela located in the central part of town,  adjacent to the waterfront renovations, the Porto Maravilha and home of a new cable car system in the city installed in preparation for the Olympics.

I first wrote about Morro da Providencia in 2010, focusing on the initial favela Bairro upgrades, as the city prepared for the World Cup and Olympics.

moro da providencia_the guaridan.jpeg

Morro da Providencia, source: The Guardian

At the time I wrote this first post, fear was looming over the impact of the renovations being done at the waterfront- anticipated to be 10 times Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero- as well as renovations inside the favela as part of the city’s Morar Carioca.

porto maravilha.JPG

The Morar Carioca program- a formal extension of the Favela-Bairro program in the city, invested $131 milllion Reales – approximately $39 million USD- in the favela aiming to impact the 5500 residents of the favela and  1720 homes.  Then Mayor Eduardo Paes framed the Morar Carioca as central piece for the social legacy of the 2016 Olympic Games. Morar Carioca would have been the most comprehensive program of its kind in the city’s history, building on the design and technical expertise accrued in the city over many years of favela upgrading programs (Favela-Bairro and PAC projects). With a budget of R$8 billion and relying on participatory approaches, the program pledged to integrate every favela in Rio into the ‘formal’ city by 2020. “The large-scale works would include the improvement of systems, installation of water drainage systems, street lighting, road surfacing, the construction of public green spaces and recreational areas, improvement of transportation networks, home stabilization, and the construction of social service centers.” (Kate Steiker-Ginzberg ,Rio on Watch)

Initial plans for the Morro da Providencia included a new cable car system (Telesférico), the enforcement of a new zoning and land use plan and a proposal to enhance the Morro da Providencia as a cultural destination in the city.

Fast forward 7 years later, and we now see that only fragments of the program were completed, and not all of these followed the anticipated and promised participatory approach.


telesferico da providencia 1, rio + social

Telesferico da Providencia , lower station, source: Rio + Social

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Telesferico da Providencia, station at the top of the favela, source: Rio + Social

In fact, residents in the Morro da Providencia strongly opposed the displacements and demolitions that were taking place to make way for interventions. After civil processes, the city was only allowed the continue work on the Telesférico.  Below is a video put together in 2012, by a Portuguese artists -Vhils – after spending a month in the favela, developing an art project and speaking to residents about the expropriations and demolitions taking place.

Since the construction of the Telesférico was completed in 2014, the cable car, which should eventually link to the Central do Brasil train station and the new VLT tram in Gamboa,  has been functioning intermittently, often closing down for ‘maintenance’.

Cosme Felippsen, 26, a Providencia resident, argues that the cable car should never have been a priority. “We didn’t want the money spent on it. Basic sanitation would have been much more useful but, as always, the city didn’t bother to talk to us […] Two hundred families were removed to make way for the cable car. If we hadn’t fought back, the city would have removed even more.” (The Story of Cities #15, The Guardian)


If you know more specifics or have information on the impact of the $75 Million Reales Telesférico on the Moro da Providencia favela and its residents, we would love to hear from you!

For other posts related to the Rio Olympics and urban renewal strategies and projects surrounding the city'[s preparation for the event, click  HERE .

For more posts on cable cars, click HERE.

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