Document Type





Fall 10-1977


Latin America, Brazil, Rio de Janerio, Architecture, Urban Design, Urban Spatial Structure, Upper Income Class Housing, Elite Residential Housing, Public Services, Infrastructure




This author wants to acknowledge the contribution given by Peter W. Amato, "An Analysis of the Changing Patterns of Elite Residential Areas in Bogota, Colombia," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1968, for the organization and methodology of this study. (pg.1)


Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


This study is about the residential location of the upper-income class in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It focuses on the spatial pattern of this location and its relationship with the characteristics of the natural environment and the availability of public services and facilities.

It shows that Rio de Janeiro's spatial structure up to the nineteenth century was similar to the Latin American Colonial Model: the city developed around the main plaza which concentrated the elite class.

During the nineteenth century, the first elite settle­ments were formed outside the city center in a spatial pat­tern which approximated to Hoyt's Sector Model: forming sectors along with the Northwest, South and Southwest directions.

Changes in a functional organization, population growth, enlargement and diversification of the elite and, later on, the availability of public services and facilities promoted those changes and the definite breakdown of the Colonial Model by the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. The elite then became concentrated along with the South and Southwest directions and did not present significant modifications up to 1970. Although in Rio de Janeiro, those directions were not exclusively or predomi­nantly occupied by the upper class, this spatial pattern was still similar to Hoyt's Model.

Regarding environmental features, in Rio de Janeiro the analysis showed that edaphic and topographic character­istics were not of primary concern to the elite. On the other hand, climate, during the nineteenth century when high temperatures could not be overcome by technology, and more recently beaches, were aspects of the environment guiding the selection of residential areas by the elite.

The investigation of elite residential location in comparison with the evolution of public services and facil­ities suggested that the first settlements outside the city center occurred independently from them. However, as they began to be installed, the first areas to be serviced were those pre-selected by the elite. In more recent times, al­though services and facilities became available to most parts of Rio de Janeiro, it was observed that the elite areas re­mained among the best-serviced ones. Actually, this analy­sis showed that throughout the city's history, the elite class was able and had the necessary power, in political and market terms, to get private and public investments in the areas it chose for residential location.

Additional Information

Typographical errors were corrected by inputter.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.