Vertical growth in a coastal city: an analysis of Boa Viagem (Recife, Brazil)

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal zones around the world have experienced urban growth in the last 50 years. This landscape change brings new aspects for those zones and the environment. Real estate speculation is a decisive factor that changes landscape, with urban growth that occurs both in the extent and volume of construction. Boa Viagem (BV) beach at Recife, Northeast Brazil was just a sand bar covered by an Atlantic Forest until middle of the 1800s. Today, it has turned into a busy area of the city where residences, services and commerce co-exist in a densely packed arrangement. This work demonstrates and analyses vertical growth in BV and urban changes from 1961 to 2011. It was developed using digital image processing and visual analysis of satellite imagery and aerial photos. A GIS was created using SPRING and ArcScene, to calculate variations in area and volume creating a Volumetric Index (VI). The Minimal Mapping Area was used in sixteen census tract as samples of the area. Occupation and vertical growth were especially accentuated from 1981 to 1996 with the peak at 2011. Increases in vertical growth from shore to inland are evident in all parts of the district. This finding was confirmed by three-dimensional GIS representations of the study area and the VI during the period of this work, showing the potential of 3D GIS models for studying dense urbanization areas in coastal zones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
Journal Journal of Coastal Conservation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • Beach patterns
  • Heat island
  • ICZM
  • Urban beaches
  • Urban planning


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