Doing city is our challenge | Martin Marcos

Closed neighborhoods in the Delta of Buenos Aires

We do not know his name but a few months ago in any place of the world the inhabitant was born number seven billions. “The near two billion persons who will join to the world population will live in cities; in consequence, it is necessary to plan for them from now” he notices formless “State of the World Population 2011” of the ONU.

Social housings in Province of Buenos Aires

Where to lodge to these millions for coming? “The Victory of the Cities”, recent book of Harvard Edward’s teacher Glaeser, claims that they – the big cities – are the only alternative to this fearsome combination of demographic explosive growth, global warming, energetic crisis and endemic poverty: “Serious much better for the planet that his urban population was living in dense cities raised about the elevator, instead of doing it in spread areas constructed concerning the car”. His studies demonstrate that the widespread city of low population density provokes major environmental and social negative impact that the compact and dense cities. The one-family house exempts-mal that us in spite of the architects – has developed into the type of housing that more energy, land and water consumes; being the counter- face of a territorial unviable and ecologically unsustainable model. Can we continue teaching, publishing and rewarding these paradigmatic examples of the ” high seam ” architectural without doing a critical reflection of his consequences?

Neighborhoods Army of the Andes (Fuerte Apache) in Buenos Aires

Here 92 % of the Argentinians we live in cities and his peripheries have grown in the last years of three forms: The private road by means of closed and similar neighborhoods; the public one with sets habitacionales of social housing, and the spontaneous route irregular accessions and villas misery. This way and for different reasons, the urban spot has been enlarged without planning and with very low density; occupying great quantity of fertile lands or controlling imprudently fragile ecosystems of hydrological regulation like wetlands and other zones inundables. Today the closed neighborhoods use 40 thousand hectares against 20 thousand of the city of Buenos Aires; they duplicate his surface to shelter less people than the neighborhood of Pony. A real squandering of the richest and productive territory of the planet, I joust when the food is vital. In addition his dependence of the car carries high consumptions of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions that aggravate the global warming. Probably for it Rosary has been the first city of the country in debating publicly and prohibiting new neighborhoods closed in his periphery. To favour the social and strategic value of the soil for on the speculation and the fragmentation are foundations of the flaming Law. Is it sustainable to continue loteando to the infinite the Humid Pampas and the Delta?

Villa 31, Retiro, City of Buenos Aires

From the public sector, the housing of social interest also has avoided the density and the urban compact fabric, probably to move away from the failure of the neighborhoods type “Fuerte Apache” in the years `70. In his replacement this State has chosen – almost always – for sets isolated of houses in the peripheries. Without an architectural reflection not of the materials and the environment that they propose; with tracings streets ensimismados that supplant the effective “Creole apple”, these “solutions habitacionales” have been a new opportunity lost to call to thinking, to designing and constructing a better habitat for many. Today it is more important do city than do housings. Because of it sinérgico is to open streets and to urbanize the villas, to create public space of quality in marginal zones, to improve existing housings, to densify and to take drinkable water and sewage there where they do not exist, sanear the Creek and the basins contaminated with the conurbano, to strengthen intermediate cities, and to invest seriously in the trains and the public metropolitan transport.

State housings of the Federal Plan 2010 (Argentina)

Closed neighborhoods, joint isolated habitacionales and irregular accessions of extreme poverty are, for option or for need, not sustainable models of anti-city.

Street in the downtown of Buenos Aires

To do city. How? Compact and intense, mixing people, uses, densities and tipologías edilicias different. With public space of high quality; squares, streets and parks of elegant design and maintenance. With commercial and productive activities compatible with a healthy life. With new collective, comfortable, efficient housings energetically, done with sustainable materials and green ceilings. With cultural, educational and sanitary equipments for all. With public widespread, sustainable and diversified transport. Taking care of the neighborhoods, the environment and our heritage. Integrating and urbanizing the villas and the formless peripheries. Making possible with policies you activate the access to a worthy and urban housing. A better, more solidary city, where the law reigns and where the different ones we could coexist without having to resort to walls and private safety. Where each one finds his place and could construct his own project of happiness. This one might be the solution to our current crossroads. Will we be in conditions, as discipline and professional group, of assuming this crucial challenge?

Public space in the city of Buenos Aires

Martin Marcos . Architect and town planner. Teacher Titular FADU UBA
buenos aires. december  2013

Martín Marcos

Docente de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanis­mo (UBA) y director del Museo de Arquitectura y Diseño de la Socie­dad Central de Arquitectos en Buenos Aires hasta 2018. Actualmente lleva la dirección del Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo – MNAD, en el Palacio Errázuriz-Alvear. 

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