Brazilian urban porosity: Treat or threat?

  • Igor Tempels Moreno Pessôa TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Tuna Taşan-Kok UvA
  • Willem Korthals Altes TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment


Urban areas have spatial discontinuities, such as disconnected neighbourhoods, brownfield areas and leftover places. They can be captured by the metaphor of urban porosity. This article aims to highlight potential social consequences of urban porosity by creating a “porosity index”. We argue that these areas can provide capacity for flexibility, fluidity, and absorption in major cities, but that they can also be a source of fragmentation, disconnection, and isolation between different social groups, eroding the adaptive capacity of metropolitan systems. Porosity may thus have both positive and negative influences on the resilience of urban systems. Brazil’s rapid process of urbanisation over the last 50 years shows both these sides of porosity, which create treats and threats for its urban systems. This paper develops an analytical framework within which to study how porosity manifests itself in Brazilian metropolises, which helps to identify porosity in contexts of urban growth and decline. It uses statistical data from IBGE relating to 12 Brazilian metropolises to generate the proposed porosity index. Additionally, the paper discusses the added value of the concept of urban porosity in addressing urban resilience and briefly elucidates the issues and opportunities caused by discontinuities in the urban fabric in Brazil’s metropolises.


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How to Cite
MORENO PESSÔA, Igor Tempels; TAŞAN-KOK, Tuna; KORTHALS ALTES, Willem. Brazilian urban porosity. A+BE | Architecture and the Built Environment, [S.l.], n. 4, p. 35-52, may 2019. ISSN 2214-7233. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 06 july 2020.