Cities and their citizens need restored rivers, argues speaker at TEDxFreiburg


With the 300 tickets sold out and an inviting atmosphere for new insights, the TEDx promoted on December 2 in the city of Freiburg (Germany) brought lectures on the frontiers between biology and technology, on how life can be similar to a jazz improvisation, and how really good ideas may not sound like a good idea.

One of the high points of the program, however, showed the audience a bit of Blumenau, Brazil. The brazilian architect Carolina Nunes and her talk “The fluid ‘nature’ of modernity: just like a river” showed how public space are intertwining with preservation, and how the interaction of cities with nature is positively influencing the quality of life of people and sustainability.

Rivers are the object of Carolina’s research, especially their renaturation. Germany has been the vanguard in this process by betting on the transformation of its rivers and streams, removing the concrete from its banks and even daylighting streams that were running through pipes.

The result is that, once the sewage treatment is a reality, rivers have become a place for recreation and leisure, creating new options for the Germans and more integration of cities with water, parks and green areas.

Germany has also been betting on concrete banks to tame its rivers, a trend that had great impetus in the XX century. In Brazil, this idea is still defended and adopted.

“The importance of the river was forgotten, since the rivers were not on people’s minds anymore, nobody cared about them, the quality of water and of nature’s conditions were not a concern. Development of the city demanded more land for streets and buildings, so the rivers started to be rectified, walled in and buried out of view”, said Carolina.

The architect sees the city of the future in an optimistic way, appropriated by its citizens. The use of riverbanks as linear parks will have a positive influence on health and green mobility, based on bicycles and other non-polluting means of transport. Once daylighted, rivers and streams will improve the biodiversity and microclimate in communities. The renaturation of streams will also make new generations more aware of the importance of environmental conservation.

“Even modernity is fluid like a river. The world is not fixed anymore, so why should the river banks be?”, added the speaker.

Making of TEDxFreiburg – Video: Walter Carlos Weingaertner