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An Esperanto for Architecture and Urbanism

By Marcelo Montoro, Architect and Partner S+A Brazil

Why are there still so many different rules for Architecture and urbanism?

In assessing business environments one component is the ease of obtaining building permits, according to The World Bank’s Doing Business classification of economies. It is concluded that urban and building laws are responsible for contributing to the higher or lower complexity of licensing processes.

There is consensus that many places, such as Hong Kong, have effective regulations. Others are known for discouraging complexity, time-consuming licensing, legal uncertainty, and little interaction with international norms, like São Paulo.

Regulation, standardization, and simplification are much more than concepts. Although each territory has its specificities, people and environments have basic demands that would benefit from clear rules, diversification, and effective processes.

When the simplification of licensing processes was discussed in Brazil under the pretext of reducing bureaucracy, the predominant fear was that rules would become more flexible and that there would be a supposed threat to the prerogative of the entity that makes the regulation, thus losing focus.

The world already knows what a lack of regulation causes. But perhaps the benefits of efficient and fair legislation are not fully known. Some urban centers are more successful than others in terms of the results of their urban and building regulations. Understanding the reasons for success should be the routine of those who think and do urbanism.

In a scenario where environmental and social demands tend to be more complex, it is important that there are no innocuous impositions with effects contrary to the desired one, or the accelerated simplification pressured by economic demands.

There are continuous gains with the practice of good regulation, even in times of low economic activity. The respect, acknowledgment, and improvement of regulation is a civilizing posture. Globalization and digitalization allowed qualitative gains in projects, created powerful tools, expanded the control of supervision, but are running more and more into the resistance of regulations to simplification.

In the speech of the first UN Forum of Mayors were leaders of world metropolises and it was pointed out to these leaders as a main need “a public attitude of mind that is more open to change than ever before”. Among the attitudes should be the desire to make the rules of our cities simpler, fairer, better, like a universal language, an Esperanto!

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