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Urban Imaginaries: Rio Olympics in the Temporary Turn

Authors: Sasha Allgayer*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Development, Latin America
Keywords: cityscape, urban development, Olympics
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Hosting large-scale cultural events such as the Olympics has been one way to construct
material cityscapes that serve to build a city brand or image (Pagano & Bowman, 1995). The
Olympics have long cultivated their own image of furthering peace and development, celebrating
unity, and as an agent of positive social change (Peacock, 2011). The Rio Olympic Committee
sought to continue those ideals by promising to give back to the community, dismantling and
transforming new Olympic infrastructure into public schools, parks, and public venues. Some
Olympic infrastructure was even made with “prefabricated modular parts” to be disassembled,
moved, and reconfigured to create something new (Lubell, 2016, para. 6), also described as
nomadic architecture (Poon, 2016).
This new style of nomadic architecture is a key to Rio’s Olympic cityscape. It can be
viewed as a material-ideological solution to the criticism that venues are often left to rot post-
Olympics. However, the Olympics are often beset by dysfunction: forced evictions, ecological
destruction, and failed promises of prosperity. Thus, the Olympics have become a key context
for struggles over the relationship between urban space and social justice with Rio 2016
presenting a unique case study in terms of space and the temporary turn. This study analyzes
how the changing cityscape surrounding the Olympics affected the environment and locals’
alternative vision of the city.

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