The Bartlett School of Planning


Gabriel Silvestre

Research subject

Thesis title: Urban Visioning as Policy Assemblage: ideas, interests and institutions in the development of Olympic Rio de Janeiro

Primary supervisor: Professor Mike Raco
Secondary supervisor: Dr Ben Clifford
Sponsor: CAPES
Start Date: September 2011
Projected Completion Date: March 2016

Grand visions for the development of our cities have long generated interest in studies of planning history and examples abound of the influence of individuals and their proposals across geographical boundaries. There is however, a renewed interest which spans disciplines to critically engage with the way context-specific policies and expertise are mobilised, translated and adapted into new plans. This is particularly relevant at times in which cities are frequently measured against each other and encouraged to learn from ‘successful’ policies; as one can witness in the proliferation of urban performance tables, think-tanks’ reports, and in the activities of international consultancy groups and multilateral institutions advocating the take-up of best practices.

This research examines the assemblage of ideas, interests and institutions for the delivery of development projects in the city of Rio de Janeiro. It is claimed that the city is undergoing a watershed moment due the preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games. However, despite general claims identifying these processes as Olympic legacies, a closer examination reveals how policies such as strategic planning, the hosting of events, and waterfront regeneration are part and parcel of a sustained shift in the rationale of local urban planning in the last two decades. It is argued that these were influenced by and incorporated experiences from elsewhere, which allowed local actors to gain political capital and advance their agendas.

In order to analyse the transfer of policy models and expertise, their adaptation and implications, this study undertakes archival research and interviews with a range of key policy actors. An appreciation of how policies are not just defined ‘in place’, can help us to understand the ways in which development is relationally pursued, and how globally circulating ideas are embedded into concrete urban policies.


I have been at the Bartlett School of Planning since 2011, first as a part-time PhD researcher and then as a fully-funded candidate sponsored by the CAPES Brazilian research council. I received a MA in Tourism Management from the University of Westminster in 2006 where I examined the planning of mega-events and their associated social impacts. After that I went to work in the tourism industry (Visit Britain) and the public sector (City of London Corporation). I have been a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster since 2012 and a teaching assistant at UCL since 2014.

I am currently a committee member of the Urban Geography Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and I have served as vice-chair of the Brazilian Association of Postgraduate Students and Researchers in the United Kingdom during the 2012-13 mandate. 

Publications and other workp

Refereed Papers

Silvestre, G. and Oliveira, N.G. (2012) ‘The Revanchist Logic of Mega-Events: Community displacement in Rio de Janeiro’s West End’, Visual Studies, 27(2), 204-210.

Silvestre, G. (2009) ‘The Social Impacts of Mega-events: Towards a framework’, Esporte e Sociedade - Revista Digital, 4(10).

Book Chapters

Silvestre, G. (in press) ‘Rio de Janeiro 2016’, in Gold, J.R. and Gold, M.M. (eds.) Olympic Cities: City Agendas, Planning, and the World’s Games, 1896-2016, 3rd Edition, Routledge.

Horne, J. and Silvestre, G. (in press) ‘Brazil, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games’, in Bainer, A.; Kelly, J. and Lee, J.W. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics. Routledge.

Silvestre, G. (2015) ‘The Social Impacts of Mega-events: Towards a framework’, in Kotlyarov, M. (ed.) Mega Sports Events and Territorial Development. Ekaterinburg: Ural Federal University. 1ed. P.70-95

Research Reports

Silvestre, G. (2012) ‘An Olympic City in the Making: Rio de Janeiro mega-event strategy 1993-2016’. Report of the 2012 Postgraduate Research Grant Programme. Lausanne: Olympic Studies Centre, International Olympic Committee.