The story of Pedra Branca started at the end of the 1990s, when the transformation of a family farm was planned, with its natural beauty, in a district of the municipality of Palhoça, in Grande Florianópolis.
Since its beginning the district had a weighty anchor in the Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina – Unisul that settled there, bringing life and movement to the enterprise. The area was registered as a district called Cidade Universitária Pedra Branca.
With a total of 2,300 lots, in around 250 hectares, with a few single parent family lots, and mixed and commercial lots the area comes to life and the district is set to turn into reality. Many people come to enjoy the parks, markets and lakes that the district offers and by 2014 it already had 7,000 students, 5,000 residents and 5,500 employees.
Starting from criteria adopted for residential, retail, service, leisure, work and educational placement, and comfortable distances for travel either by foot or bicycle, a district city for 40,000 residents, 30,000 employees and 10,000 students has come to be constructed, with completion of the core group on the horizon for 2020.
After the implementation of the first stage of the Pedra Branca district, started in 1999 with a residential subdivision, developers have sought, since 2005, along with studying the book PLACE MAKING – Developing Town Centres, Main Streets, and Urban Villages by Charles C. Bohl, to understand other more complex and comprehensive initiatives. The study was followed by participation in various conventions, seminars, lectures and workshops, in Brazil and abroad, going deeper into the theme “New Urbanism”, that bought together the search for a new solution to the complexities and verified deficiencies in the history of the growth of cities.
The flag wavers of New Urbanism and Sustainable Urbanism, advocate the recuperation of a sense of place, as opposed to urban sprawl with a heavy reliance on cars, and enthusiastically learn from the past and were motivated to contract an DPZ office within Latin America, from Miami, from one of the mentors of this movement that proposes the creation of more compact, dense, complete and connected new centralities.
Within this context new urbanism preaches a new look. A mixed city, a rescue from centrality where people can live, work, study and have fun all in one place. Adding to this vision and to the American movement for the green certification of buildings, Pedra Branca has a passion for this concept and understands that cities have a major role in transformation toward a more sustainable world, and has since made every effort to be a pioneer for this project in Brazil.
The process of creating the Pedra Branca Masterplan for a new centrality in the continental area of Grande Florianópolis involved 11 architectural and urbanism offices and important national and international consultants, among them Jaime Lerner, “guru” of Brazilian Urbanism, besides the three laboratories of the UFSC – Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Today the project, pioneered in Brazil and Latin America, is recognised as a new benchmark for urban projects to incentivise the public and private sector. Among the awards received for Urbanism, highlights are from the Bienal de Buenos Aires in 2007, the Financial Times of London in 2008, and an invitation in 2009 from the Bill Clinton Foundation to integrate with the Climate Positive programme.
With the numerous contributions made compatible via very clear principals, the place will become recognised as a source of inspiration for a new lifestyle which is more committed to sustainability and more associated to the outdoor life, with walking or cycling and social co-existence.
The consultation services of architect Jan Gehl, focussed on the character of public spaces involved in living activities, contemplation and social interaction of people in everyday life, and is the pinnacle of many concepts and contributions.
2013 was the year of the Pedra Branca City district. A year of consolidation for the dream of seeing people occupy the streets and the plaza of the new centrality. Where the two first mixed use blocks were delivered with ten apartment blocks, offices and shops – Condominium Pátio da Pedra (first launched for the new centrality in 2010) and Condominium Pátio das Flores, in addition to two other office blocks in two other city blocks – Edifices Green office and Inaitec, based on the Masterplan developed by DPZ – LA.
In the spring the new centre began to gain more life with the completion of a new plaza and shared street where the Passeio Pedra Branca began operation – the open air mall. With these completed the residents of the district and the region began to enjoy this new centrality. The final design for the plaza project and the pedestrian street was developed by the office of the celebrated Danish architect and urbanist Jan Gehl (www.gehlarchitects.com), who was also responsible for the design of all public spaces for the district.