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Recife is an amphibious city whose urban development does not value its rivers. In the past, the city’s main watercourse, the river Capibaribe, was understood to play a key role in structuring urban spaces and providing connectivity. Since then, this understanding has dwindled, and the resulting situation is a cause of great concern. Recife City has turned its back on the banks of its rivers and neglected both their capacity to smooth and shape urban space, and their potential to create a coherent image of the city. Recife is one of those cities in the world that are most vulnerable to climate change, ranking 16th in the list of world hotspots. In order to confront these challenges and rethink the role of the river that runs in the heart of Recife, researchers, architects, engineers, and sociologists from Research and Innovation for Cities — Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (INCITI-UFPE) were invited by the Recife City Hall to draw up plans for a park stretching along the river’s banks. Capibaribe Park Project attempts to answer one key question: How can we use the river to transform the city? The park project is based on a structural approach to landscape and is guided by the precepts of sustainability and regeneration of public spaces, in line with the emerging paradigm that combines a cross-disciplinary and cross-sector approach with water-sensitive design and social participation. The present article presents an overview of the main characteristics and development of this project, its theoretical and methodological underpinnings, its contribution to society, and the results achieved so far. It shows how, in addition to the planned park, the project also envisages the installation of a much more extensive system of parks, as a first stage towards the creation of park-city by the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Recife, in 2037.
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