i'm an economist, and research assistant in urban and regional planning at the federal university of minas gerais in brazil. i''ve been studying urban sprawl in the metropolitan area of belo horizonte, a greater city with 4 million inhabitants in the brazilian southeast (the country's 3rd largest city, after são paulo and rio de janeiro).
a recent phenomenon has been calling planners' attentions down here, whcih is the emergence of hundreds of closed (with gates and walls) suburban residential communities in some of brazil's largest cities (and in latin america as well, mainly in chile and argentina, that i know of). their closeness to public access is inconstitutional and illegal, since they are served by public services. but, probably, due to level of urban violence that the urban cores of these cities have reached, authorities have remained outside this legal matter. my question, though, and proposal for debate, is related to the "new urbanism" movement in north america. interestingly, the biggest and most closed and fortified of these suburbs (called alphaville) claim themselves as "the major representative of new urbanism in brazil" in their brochures and websites (www.alphaville.com.br). it's a fact that in some parts, they do mixed-use development and higher density housing, but it's not only privatized and behind closed gates (only the residential parts though), but about 20 miles from the city center, with huge empty areas along the way! to me (only a beginner to the subject, not an architect, just a student of urban economics), it's a complete distortion of what new urbanism is supposed to mean and envision.
what do you all make of that?