Repulsion and attraction : the ambiguous coexistence of two cities in Ouro Preto, Brazil
Gabriel, Marco Antonio Minozzo
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The town of Ouro Preto in the state of Minas Gerais is one of the most remarkable remaining historic centres in Brazil. Listed in 1980 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it was the first Brazilian site to be included in the list and represented, by that time, the commitment of the nation into taking care of its cultural heritage. The “outer city”, a group of poor boroughs built over fragile sites in the hills around the original ensemble, is usually claimed to detract from the Outstanding Values of the site. The conflict between these fabrics usually highlights the dissimilarities: poor and rich, historic and non-historic, touristic and non-touristic, beautiful and ugly. To settle this conflict, many actions took place in order to homogenize the appearance of the town, a situation that drove the urban fabric into a contradictory relation of patrimonial values. After all, when investigating the cultural heritage of this urban setting, may we simply assume the existence of a good inner historic centre and bad outskirts? On the rise of the 21st century, Ouro Preto is two cities: an ambiguous relation between the historic and the non-historic fabric suggests a city in need of reconnection. To investigate this dualistic relation, this dissertation intends to explore not the differences between them, but aims to identify genuine and unconventional historic associations and reminiscences that could possibly be used to propose actions for a more realistic management of the World Heritage Site and the city as a whole. For a proper evaluation of this ambiguous matter, this research is divided into three investigations. The first part is dedicated to comprehend the city´s current urban morphology by analysing both fabrics and their historical formation process. This study includes considerations about the emergence of them, the progression of patrimonialization – the institutionalization of heritage – of Ouro Preto and the National and UNESCO listings, the architectural editing process of the city´s ensemble and the uncontrolled growth of the second half of the 20th century.