- Fernando Duarte
- BBC Brazil
The Camboriu Spa has been dubbed the “Brazilian Dubai” and it is easy to see why.
The city of just over 145,000 inhabitants located in southern Brazil has a surprising record.
Despite being much smaller than the mega-cities of Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, the spa is home to six of the 10 tallest residential buildings in South America, according to data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international NGO.
But there is literally a dark side to these figures.
Most of the skyscrapers are located along Praia Central, the most famous beach in the city.
This concentration of giant buildings has made the beach “miss” the sun.
“After 2pm, the skyscrapers block the sunlight and cast the beach in shadow. It’s that simple,” resident Sabrina Silva tells the BBC.
The shadow of the skyscrapers that is projected on the beach makes eThis is colder and darker.
“What’s worse is that people have to crowd into the narrow sunny spaces that the space between buildings leaves to sunbathe. It’s hell,” adds Silva.
Still, Praia Central remains the most popular beach in the city.
Even in times of covid-19, It’s been crowded on sunny days and bathers defy pandemic control restrictions.
Some locals like Isaque Borba, a historian specializing in Balneario Camboriu’s past, think there is too much fuss over nothing.
“Times have changed. Many people do not want to stay in the sun because it could be dangerous to their health. The shadows allow people to exercise on the promenade and not sweat,” Borba tells the BBC.
“If skyscrapers were really a problem, why do people keep coming? Maybe they really enjoy Praia Central as it is now.”
Tourist access point
Balneario Camboriu is a very popular destination.
Almost a million people visited the city in 2019, according to the tourism department, making it one of the most visited places in all of Brazil.
The city too attracts the rich and famous: According to local media, soccer player Neymar bought a penthouse valued at $ 5.7 million earlier this year in one of the newest luxury developments.
Visitors – national and international – are also attracted by a vast presence of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
There is even a giant panoramic ferris wheel similar to the London Eye in Central Beach.
Also, compared to better known coastal cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Balneario Camboriu it is also much safer.
Although locals like Isaque Borba don’t see the shadows in Praia Central as a big problem, Mayor Fabricio Oliveira announced before Christmas a remodeling plan for Central Beach.
The objective is to double the current 25 meters wide of the beach by placing more sand.
“We are not doing this for the shadows, but it is obvious that with a wider beach we will have more sunlight“Oliveira told the BBC.
Vertical construction is the most common form for this spa.
It helps that local legislation that do not impose height limits and that with its popularization as a vacation destination during the last four decades, the demand for real estate has exploded.
But there are other concerns about this “verticalization”.
Environmental scientist and university professor Marcus Polette is one of the authors of a study published in 2018, which warned that Balneario Camboriu could face a serious water shortage by 2028 due to the growth and density of its population.
“The city’s population already increases by almost 3% each year and this will only get worse once the redevelopment of Praia Central makes it more attractive, “believes Polette.
In recent years there have been supply crises, especially at the peak of the summer holidays.
“During this period, the local population increases considerably with the arrival of tourists and vacationers; it can easily reach more than 800,000 people,” he adds.
“Compared to this, the shadow on Central Beach it is merely an aesthetic problem “, concludes the scientist.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.