The Post-Industrial Legacy in Brazil

The design of restorative and regenerative processes in post-industrial territories presents complex and ambiguous challenges that require organizations to account for the intertwined interactions between social, ecological, and technical components shaping experiences of daily life. Devalorized cultural traditions, high levels of soil and air pollution, large numbers of abandoned buildings, and outdated zoning policies are a few examples of complex conditions posing significant barriers to improving the well-being of low-wealth residents of these territories, the organizations that serve them, and the ecosystem within which they exist.

In this article, we share the case of an ongoing urban redevelopment process in the 4th District, Porto Alegre, Brazil. As the core entity carrying out collective urban practices, Vila Flores mobilizes and is mobilized by a constellation of local agents through principles of circular economy and social justice. These local agents combined their assets in response to emerging opportunities to strengthen the local circular economy and form flexible networks capable of progressively improving well-being within and outside their geographic boundary.

We applied design frameworks to describe how the resulting interventions relied on the mutual circulation of eight different types of resources (human, social, political, cultural, natural, financial, manufactured, and digital) to enable more just, sustainable, and equitable outcomes. Drawing Vila Flores’s activities, we generalized lessons about its organizational structure and core competencies that help restore and regenerate local circular economies in post-industrial territories.

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