Open Access
Canto du Pin calmon, Tatiana
Graduate Program:
Landscape Architecture
Master of Landscape Architecture
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Caru Bowns, Thesis Advisor
  • social sustainability
  • developing countries
  • socio-spatial segregation
  • participation
  • equity
  • social inclusion
  • accessibility
  • quality of life
  • Brazil
  • Brasília
  • capacity building
Core to this research is the concern with quality of life in developing countries that focus on open space, accessibility, housing, etc. In any discussion about “quality of life” it is agreed there are disparities between and amongst communities. Some communities are vibrant, well maintained, organized and flourish over time while others have to overcome many social and physical obstacles. In Brasília , the capital of Brazil, the community of Varjão is located relatively close to the city center - where jobs and services are concentrated - and surrounded by rich neighborhoods. However, Varjão faces problems such as housing shortages, substandard conditions and lack of transportation. The uneven conditions faced by this poor community and other informal settlements exist in varying degrees and manifestations not only in Brazil and other developing countries, but also in some developed countries. Locations that face inequality in quality of life are examples of socio-spatial segregation (SSS). The term SSS is used in this study to refer to the social and physical obstacles that prevent certain segments of the population from reaching better social, political and economic conditions (i.e. socio-spatial integration or a better quality of life). SSS mostly corresponds to deprivation and suffering resulting from poverty, lack of access to resources, public services and decision making opportunities to effect improvement in social programs and the physical environment of communities. SSS is integral to larger discussions in urban and community planning about how to achieve urban social sustainability, an important aspect of sustainable development scholarship. The sustainable development or sustainability discourse is fairly new and diverse, but so far its common ground can be defined as achieving living patterns that can coexist in equilibrium with the environment and at the same time meet people’s economic and social needs in the long term (Dillard et al. 2009; Madanipour, 2003; Magis & Shinn, 2009; Marshall, 1973; Polèse & Stren,2000). The goal of urban social sustainability, therefore, is to improve the quality of urban life in a world that is already predominantly urban and is projected to become even more urbanized. The study focuses mainly on the conditions and efforts being made to improve the quality of life in informal and substandard communities in Brazil and the implications for addressing similar causes of SSS in other locations. The study argues that urban and community planning strategies as currently practiced to improve conditions in Varjão and other impoverished and informal settlements in Brasília are ineffective in achieving a sustainable quality of life. Socio-spatial integration (SSI)( a term used interchangeably with the concept of “quality of life” and an important aspect of social sustainability discourse) cannot be achieved only by means of federal, state and local government funding for social programs and community infrastructure. The more inclusive conditions of SSI are furthered by civil and grassroots structures. The hypothesis of this study is that planning and design strategies that remove obstacles to quality of life and also explore community-based solutions for alleviating poverty and promote long-term community empowerment are strategies for achieving SSI in Brazil. An analysis of the issues generated by traditional planning and urban design, an analysis of successful SSI examples, and a case study are examined to explore this hypothesis. This study provides a general analysis of the conditions of SSS in Brazil and Brasília as well as an in-depth analysis of the district of Varjão (the case study). The case study focuses on existing planning and design efforts for community improvement and proposes how community-based actions can address needs for recreation and open space as well as improve aspects of the community landscape.