From Oedipus complex to Manguinhos complex: public space as a social connector

The existence of enormous areas in our cities, where inhabitants are excluded of the benefits of urbanity, affects everybody. We know that when we try to exclude from ourselves something we want to expel, it always returns. There are consequences for the exclusion and the expulsion of parts of ourselves, and parts of our cities..

The Manguinhos complex is not only an assembly of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, it is also a part “favelada”(“favela-ed” or excluded) in each one of us, in a process that impoverishes everybody: the ones who are obligated to live in the favela for lack of options, and the ones who live outside the favela.

The Brazilian Institute of Social Studies (IBASE) did a study analyzing the relations between the favela and the “asfalto” (meaning “asphalt”, referred to the formal parts of the city) which shows that the inhabitants of the asphalt view people in the favelas with suspicion, and the people in the favela view the residents as arrogant. The prejudice rules these relations with defensive attitude that, though fragile and useless, keeps the illusion that the “ bad” is always the other. It is an unfortunate reality that brings tragic consequences to the humanity. The struggle of the good against the evil does not have winners. Everybody loses.

Psychoanalysis says that love and hate are parts of the human being and that from this mixture it can result in both the most bizarre things but also the most sublime ones: beautiful works of art as well as hideous crimes.

It is here that the Oedipus complex appears. The Oedipus serves to bar, to intercept and to re-direct the powerful forces of love and hate that make us move.

The Oedipus complex acts like a structure of interdiction that puts all of us in the same condition due to our “incompleteness” and mortality.

We can broaden our horizon by recognizing the limits, incorporating the excluded ones in our life, in our city, and in the world. From the recycling of garbage, reforestation politics, and the creation of conditions to generate work and income, the question is always the same: the reinsertion of humanity in us through the recognition of the “ other”.

The environment needs to be human to the human being, and the human complexity must have all the complexes: The Oedipus complex and the Manguinhos complex.

The connective promenade

(The Manguinhos Rambla)

The projectual intervention provokes a significant change in the context of the favela, through the creation of a connective new space (Rambla) articulating social facilities (civic center including school, library, legal support office and squares) with the new Manguinhos train station.

This new type of space (inexistent in the city before the project) implies a re-qualification of the broken city with prestigious facilities (public spaces for social interactions and well elaborates buildings).

Amid the divided society, public space works as a number-one factor of socio-spatial regeneration.

In this context, urban design projects need to simultaneously consider physical aspects (infrastructure, urbanism and architecture), social conditions (which include the cultural, economical and existential aspects), ecological issues (that imply mental, social, and environmental questions) and citizens security (which is related to the control of the social territory).

As part of the “urban parti” the sector here presented is an exemplary case selecting Leopoldo Bulhões avenue, the most conflictive fragment (called by Rio residents the “Gaza Strip”) where the railroad was drastically dividing the area.

The project consists of a new landscape design of environmental quality, defined by the conjugation of places, activities, constructions and vegetation. This linear public space is thought as a connector of the informal residential sectors, currently divided by the railway line, which we proposed to elevate.

The main element of the proposal is the public promenade itself, the constitution of an urban pedestrian walkway along the avenue and a new multi modal transportation interchanger (train, bus, taxis, moto-taxis, vans, bicycles) open 24 hours.

This combination of interrelated elements, allowed by the connectivity of the pedestrian promenade, eliminates existing barriers transforming the most problematic sector in the area into one of great virtues: from divider to connector.

The premises for the landscape design takes as reference Flamengo Park in the city of Rio de Janeiro, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, which was conceived as a place of relaxation, sport and culture, with the values of a modern democratic space.

The structuring programs of the Manguinhos project were carefully defined to satisfy the different age groups including sport, culture, and job and income generation facilities. However, within this framework, an emphasis was put in providing children and teenagers with alternative attractions that would integrate these groups to the community and prevents them from being seduced by the drug dealing activity, which is typically a key job generator in the economy of low-income areas of the city.

“City Shaping” means the possibility of re-creating, through social/spatial interventions, the sense of belonging, the perception and the re-inscription of their identities.

Rediscovering ourselves as neighbors, we can also discover new ways of relating in the city.

Jorge Mario JŠuregui