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3. make it visible

3.2. cartographies

3.2.1. [to tread]

Every map is an invention. Construction that connects the ends of the world. Every map is a truth. A silting up of historical, geographic and social remnants, a “manipulated form of knowledge” (HARLEY, 2009), maps are discourses, texts never read, but which encompass intricate relations of domain, means, interpretations.

Iconology is the study of visual symbolism, images, the science behind the collective unconscious that permeates the gaze of a work within its factual and cultural concept. Icon maps are images loaded with a value of judgment, which may be possible for scenarios in morphological settings. Every map is a manifestation of a language and thus builds a dialogue. A map can be a conversation.

"Due to the selectivity of their content and their symbols and styles of representation, maps are a means of imagining, articulating and structuring the world of men."

― HARLEY, Brian. Mapas, saber e poder. In: Confins, Revista Franco-brasileira de Geografia, n. 5, 2009

The first nomadic groups designed rock itineraries, where observation and the need to control a particular location culminated in the recording of geographic factors, paths, travel routes, enemies, food receptacles and other foments of resistance. In this period, the sky, especially the North Star, were the guides for travelers.

Interlocutors between different views of the world, such as cartographies, function as objects of control. The discovery of the Earth's magnetic axis defined a sense of direction, which determined the north-south nodes of the planet. During the learning of architecture, I was instructed to always identify the north in floor plans, in order to facilitate the reading of the information contained in that drawing. The predominance of the “writing” of maps from that point on, still reminds us of the European colonization, which was strengthened during the 15th century, with the period of the great navigations and the Renaissance. In earlier times, Arabs and Egyptians were already creating maps with the south at the top, surpassing what would become the current norm.

In functional cartography, there are basic elements that are considered when drawing up a map, or chart: title, scale, legend, orientation and cartographic design. But a map is not just operational, it can mediate legends and secrets, keys that unlock mysteries. They are the oldest representation of geographical thought, and they did not always occupy the flat surface of paper or pixels on canvas, being formerly made of wood, ceramics, coconut shells, stone, clay and even animal skins.

Maps also encompass silences. Hidden political messages, historical omissions, the proportion of elements to scale, all components of subjective influence. Even here, in Fortaleza, a Latin American city, the drawn maps hide their secrets. In 2016, visiting an archive, I accessed maps of the beginning of cartographic surveys in the capital of Ceará, dated in 1931 and 1936, in which the obliteration of the first precarious settlements, modest streets and alleys becomes evident.

Never neutral or exempt, the set of existing cartographies is crossed by concepts and limits and every limit produces a border. Borders represent the unification of different points, but also the opening to another place, the crossings.

"Far from the nucleus, with its back to the territory that in principle concerns it, the frontier is a pulverized place that questions itself even with its architects and guardians. What should be a perceptible demarcation turns out to be a space of transition, a place of interpenetrations, an open field of intersections. What was conceived to contain transforms content into unlimited, uncontained space. Beyond the line that demarcates it is exactly the border that makes explicit the breadth or complexity of what was not designed to be contained or confined. What was conceived to put an end, to delimit territories with precision as if it were a dividing line, spreads out in a zone of interface and transition between two worlds taken as distinct.
Every limit necessarily produces a frontier. It is, therefore, precisely this limit, the impossibility of detaching language from the imagination, despite what scientific rationalism of the 19th century believed, its own condition of transcendence, of transposition: of obstacle to the bridge, of limit to the frontier, opening .

― Fragment freely translated from "Sertões do mundo, uma epistemologia, volume 1"  by the author MELO, Adriana Ferreira de. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte, 2011.

From here, in Brazil, sitting in my chair, I access a video. In it I see people walking down a street in Lisbon. A little while ago, it rained, I notice the water marks on the sidewalk. Wouldn't the fiber optic paths, which transport me to this video, be a kind of map? And the very journey that I have in my mind about this city on another continent, the making of a subjective letter?

The codes hidden in a map can be not only spatial, but numerical, temporal, memorial, linguistic stimuli. Like everything else in this work, I come to a preliminary conclusion, from the course of the research itself. Despite historically being manipulated by an elite, in favor of control and power, I see emancipatory factors in the cartographies. Before that, it is necessary to state that I understand cartographies, in the contemporary, as everything we use to get to somewhere with awareness of the path. And this arrival does not necessarily constitute anything empirical.

1. HARLEY, Brian. Mapas, saber e poder. In: Confins, Revista Franco-brasileira de Geografia, n. 5, 2009

2. MELO, Adriana Ferreira de. Sertões do mundo, uma epistemologia, volume 1. Primeiro volume de tese apresentada ao Programa de Pós-Graduação em Geografia, Doutorado, do Instituto de Geociências da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte, 2011.

3.2.2. [riverside, roadside, wayside]

The flows condition the various aspects of the formation of a given territory. Flows of people, goods, services, transport, water, orality. Whether in the surroundings or meeting of a locality, highways and rivers act as catalysts for the emergence and consolidation of that place. 


The means of transport changed the morphology of the urban structure, replacing the compact cities that were built on the scale of walking on foot, with new centralities based on the lines of the road layout (PINTO, 2012). When we talk through small towns, this factor becomes even more decisive, since these passage structures can configure the growth or stagnation of that place.

"Before the intensification of the use of the automobile, the roads passed through the cities - through streets and avenues - and the transport flows had with them an intense relationship of cultural contact and commercial exchange, bringing local development."

Fragment freely translated from "A implantação de contornos rodoviários e as transformações da forma urbana de pequenas cidades: estudo de caso da rodovia RS-377 em São Francisco de Assis e Santiago, RS" by the author PINTO, Antônio Francisco Corrêa. Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Porto Alegre, 2012.

The Brazilian road network was structured to form strategic corridors for the flow of goods and services. In the colonial period (1500-1822), the basis for the occupation of the national territory was in the coastal-inland direction, which contributed to the isolation of the scarce population in "islands" of settlement (NATAL, 1991).

This represented, for large cities, a transformative economic growth. On the other hand, the villages felt the impacts of the lack of planning in the use and occupation of the land, with the flows of development transiting in their contours and no longer attracting internal investments, redirecting activities to the margins of cities and highways. 

We know that the urban form in small towns is more strongly influenced by the different contrasting flows, since the road contours contribute to aspects of greater impact on the morphology of these spaces, in which the arrival of new attractions is usually rare. 

In this way, it should be noted that the road system designed on a national scale often also diverts essential flows to small towns, contributing to a state of stagnant growth or even to the paralysis of the urban vitality of that city. As pointed out earlier, this is the case of Iara, object of study of this work, where the deviation of the BR 116 road, which used to pass through the city, influenced the gradual withdrawal of goods, services and people, being one of the factors of retraction of the district.

Gandara (2013) addresses the concept of “border city”, where he uses a reading in which the bank, the edge, of rivers and other water elements, presents itself as a defining component in the formation of that space, always related to contact and circulation, to encounters, to paths. The natural landscape participates or is absent from the formation of a human environment, as this contact occurs. Cognitive mechanisms diverge from purely architectural or geographical approaches, so that “the form of the city is always the form of a time in the city, and there are many times in the form of the city” (ROSSI, 1995).

The edge is an element that escapes the purely geological or recognition of the form of an urban space, since it constitutes a place of attraction or repulsion according to the imaginary of that society or the construction of meanings that object encompasses. Water courses have multiple uses, serving human consumption, irrigation, industry, fishing and fish farming, animal husbandry, recreation, tourism, transport and energy generation. As a social space in constant transformation, rivers and dams represent a key factor in the study of the formation of cities.

"It is not enough to emphasize the importance of these rivers over the centuries, whether economic, cultural or social, or to remember the contacts that crossed their banks. Particular sensitivity is needed to highlight the links between past and present, social, political, economic, and ultimately historical, relations, but above all, sensitivity to deal with landscapes, whether natural or human."

― GANDARA, Gercinair Silvério. Cidades-beira: raízes urbanas e suas relações com o ambiente/natureza. XXVII Simpósio Nacional de História. Eixo: Conhecimento histórico e diálogo social. Natal, 2013

Bending and remaking time, uniting spaces and people, the borders change constantly, representing a certain historical dimension, converging in confrontations and crafts, in a somatic experience. There is, therefore, an important relationship between water bodies (rivers) and concrete bodies (roads) in the constitution of towns and cities. In their raison d'être, these elements are structured as means of circulation that provide contacts, the coming and going, communication, accesses. Failure to take advantage of its potential, to another degree, causes the reverse effect.

1. PINTO, Antônio Francisco Corrêa. A implantação de contornos rodoviários e as transformações da forma urbana de pequenas cidades: estudo de caso da rodovia RS-377 em São Francisco de Assis e Santiago, RS. Dissertação de mestrado apresentada ao Curso de Mestrado do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Planejamento Urbano e Regional (PROPUR), da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Porto Alegre, 2012.

2. GANDARA, Gercinair Silvério. Cidades-beira: raízes urbanas e suas relações com o ambiente/natureza. XXVII Simpósio Nacional de História. Eixo: Conhecimento histórico e diálogo social. Natal, 2013

3. NATAL, Jorge Luiz Alves. Transporte, ocupação do espaço e desenvolvimento capitalista no Brasil: história e perspectivas. Ensaios FEE, v. 12, n. 2, p. 293-307, 1991.

4. ROSSI, Aldo . A arquitetura da cidade. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1995. 

3.2.4. [making in writing and desire]

The district of Iara, belonging to the municipality of Barro, located in the region of Cariri, has as borders, lines and boundaries, Cacimba dos Porcos (west), the city of Monte Alegre and the state of Paraíba (north), Fazenda Nova and district of Cuncas (east), and Sítio Alegre (south).

Inserted in the Semi Arid Zone (ZSA) and constantly threatened by low rainfall, Iara concentrates a strategic location, since it is located on the banks of the BR 116 and at the confluence point of the road network in Paraíba.

During the research process, no official letters or maps of the district or municipality were found. Thus, I needed to develop my own cartographic base, in order to support the work and promote a better understanding of the object of study. For that, I used the information collected during the field visits, as well as data in shapefile and keyhole markup language (kmz) format designed, collected and/or provided by the following sources: Gestão dos Recursos Hídricos no Ceará (COGERH), Instituto Brasileiro de Geography and Statistics (IBGE), Google Earth Pro, OpenStreetMap, The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) and Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM). That said, I manipulated the data through the free software called Quantum GIS (QGIS).

map 1. borders

map 2. municipality of Barro and districts

map 7. Iara district and rural buildings

The boundary contour of the district of Iara encompasses rivers and streams, dams and villages, in addition to the urban core of the district. Through mapping using aerial images provided by Google Earth Pro, in addition to visits to the locality, I drew the 618 buildings that make up the district's built environment. These locations flow onto BR 116 road and have in Iara a focal point for their development, as well as a point of support for services and products. Access to these places is often carried out through cartable roads, with a precarious route and dependent on motorized transport for better displacement. The search for this data came from a desire to better understand the district's perimeter of influence, counting the houses within its scope and understanding the scale of scope of the project to be proposed.

map 8. land use and occupation

It is observed that the urban core of the district is marked by the presence of few roads in asphalt or stone, many branching off towards the BR 116 road. The urban perimeter of Iara is small and predominantly residential, although a considerable percentage of the properties are abandoned or closed. There is also the presence of residential, institutional, mixed-use buildings, under construction or in a state of disrepair.


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